Telangana: Night curfew raises fear of police brutality

Hyderabad: With the night curfew in place, citizens once again that they will be subjected to severe police brutality, the kind that they witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown that was imposed in the state and country by the governments.

In fact, on the first day of the night curfew itself an activist from Hyderabad, Sai Teja, tweeted that the cops in Sangareddy allegedly thrashed a young boy who had gone out to get medicines. “…cops has thrashed this young chop in #Narsapur X Roads This Boy is returning 4m medical shop he went out to bring Pain killer tablet as he is not able to bear body pains,” said his tweet. However, this is yet to be verified.

Last year, many videos highlighting police brutality did rounds on social media, and those old clips were also circulating among Whatsapp groups since the night curfew was announced by the Telangana government on April 20. Under the restrictions, all shops and establishments have to be shut by 8 p.m. and public movement will not be allowed after 9 p.m., till 5 p.m. 

“You’ll never see police beating up ministers or businessmen for violating the lockdown. There’s is a different law for them and only we poor people are beaten to scare the rest of the classes,” said Manoj (name changed) who’s a construction worker and claims that he was beaten up badly last year for nothing. He further added that there’s no one India, there are two Indias. One for the ministers and rich people and other for people like him. “They can get away from big criminal cases but we can even get away from a small challan.” 

Critics say that this glorification of police brutality has its roots in our film industry where we love to see 10-12 bad guys being beaten up by one super cop. In reality that bad guy is someone from a poor social strata who out of ignorance would have violated the lockdown. According to a report in Hindustan times, 12 people were beaten to death by the police during last year’s national lockdown, all of them were from economically weaker backgrounds. 

A student from Hyderabad, Osman(name changed), said that he was beaten up because he didn’t know that the curfew also applied for standing in front of his house last year. He recalled, “I was just standing outside my house to take some air and two policemen came on a bike came. I didn’t panic because I was in front of my house, but as soon as they got near me, they hit me with a stick and told me to go inside, I felt as if I was cattle then.”