Ever since the countywide lockdown was imposed in March, we have come across multiple reports and video footages from different parts of the country that indicate the pathology of police induced violence against people in the name of maintaining social distancing and observing the protocols of the lockdown.
Innumerable instances of people from the poor and the marginalised sections of the population being violated during the lockdown have surfaced in the form of grassroots reports and has been backed by video footage too.
While it is justified for the police to ensure that people adhere to social distancing norms and abide by the requirements of the lockdown, but on certain occasions we have also seen extreme use of force and brutality by police on people. One of the latest examples of this is the recent custodial deaths of two men in Tamil Nadu.
The two men were a father-son duo who had been arrested for a lockdown violation in Tamil Nadu and later succumbed in custody. The father ran a timber shop while the son ran a mobile shop and both of them were arrested for keeping their shops open even during the total lockdown. They were arrested and kept in judicial custody. The police claimed that they fell sick on successive days and breathed their last in hospital. While the Madras High Court has ordered a probe into the matter and has asked for a status report based on the autopsy of the deceased, the matter has caught the attention of the national media and police brutality amid the lockdown has once again become a hot topic for public debate.
CM Edappadi K Palaniswami announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each and two sub-inspectors have been suspended. The deaths of these two men have once again made people think of the ways in which the law machinery can be wrongfully utilised to abuse innocent people. Custodial deaths are often the result of the pervasive torture that may be practiced inside prison cells. While the police is completely justified in its duty to maintain law and order and ensure that the lockdown protocol is adhered to amid the pandemic, it is also very important to ensure that it does not cause human suffering and harassment of innocent people. It is high time that police personnel become more sensitive and human in their treatment of lockdown violations.