Police won’t baton-charge people, assures K’taka Home Minister

Bengaluru: A day after several instances of crude policing methods were reported on social media sites, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday directed the police to exercise restraint while enforcing Covid lockdown measures across the state.

After launching a Covid Care Centre at the Veterinary College campus in Hebbal here, he told reporters that people should also be cautious and follow Covid norms.

“This is not the time for anyone to violate Covid lockdown guidelines. Be it police or people. Both must have some rationality in their approach. Instances of excesses are reported from both sides, both need to relook into their approach,” he said.

Karnataka had drawn severe criticism after it revised its guidelines banning use of private vehicles such as bikes/scooters to go for purchase of groceries, milk or vegetables in the neighbourhood. Due to these guidelines, police carried out ‘mild’ baton charges while people engaged in lengthy arguments with police, asking them how they can carry their essential items back home. The arguments had frequently led to a fracas and people took to social media to condemn “high-handed” police action.

Bommai said: “The police has reduced enforcing the restriction from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. such as seizing vehicles.

“There are several ways to deal with people (violators) such as seizing vehicles and imposing fine (after 10 a.m.) which should be done as per rule while baton charge could be a last and minimal resort.”

The minister added that without people’s support, no action or law can be implemented fully and in order to contain the spread of deadly virus, the government “definitely needs people’s support”.

“I have given directions to the police not to use force but we need people’s cooperation for at least 14 days to make lockdown successful,” he stressed.

Answering a question, the home minister asserted that as of now, baton-charge violators has been stopped.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Girector General of Police, Praveen Sood posted a 2.15 minute video clip titled “A police man’s ‘Man ki baat?!?!'”, which seeks to depict under how much duress are on-field policemen as they work round the clock to implement guidelines.

This video shows a police constable, who goes out of his house for duty, where he has to deal with several violators and lengthy arguments, undertake baton-charge and even appeal to people with folded hands.

The video also briefly highlights work stress as well as emotional stress he undergoes day-to-day basis, since the pandemic broke out.

After returning home, he fears cuddling his children or even speaking with his wife, and after taking his meals, he sleeps on the floor, while his entire family is another room, where his children innocently ask their mother, ‘When will our father kiss us or lift us with joy?’ To this, the mother responds, “Your father will do all of that only if we all succeed in containing the virus”.