A 32-year-old man has succumbed to injuries after allegedly being manhandled by West Bengal Police. Howrah resident Lal Swami had gone out to buy milk during the ongoing COVID19 lockdown when he got caught up in a police lathicharge to clear a gathering on the street. After receiving several blows, Swami was rushed to a local hospital, where he was declared dead.
His family has accused police personnel of beating up & killing the man who had gone out to purchase an essential commodity. The police, however, has denied all charges and officials have issued a statement that 32-year-old Lal Swami was suffering from heart ailments and had died due to a cardiac arrest.
His wife, while speaking to a Bengali News channel, ABP Ananda, asserted that her husband had died due to police lathi charge.
This is a shocking incident of alleged police brutality and leaves us wondering as to what compelled the state police to beat up a citizen with such ferocity. When the nation-wide lockdown was announced on 24th March, the nation had already been prepped for the same with the Janta Curfew on 22nd and various restrictions put in place even before that by almost all state governments. MHA guidelines clearly stipulated that people would be allowed to go out for purchasing essential supplies.
Yes, many citizens were still lax about the seriousness of the situation, and police in various states had to resort to heavy-handed tactics to clear loiterers off the streets. Some incidents of excessive use of force have come to light from other states too, but this alleged action by WB police is a gross human right violation.
This incident also brings to the fore the contradictory attitude of WB police while dealing with ordinary Hindus compared to how they deal with Muslims. In a previous report, we reported how the Muslim-dominated Rajabazar area of Kolkata was bustling with hundreds of Muslim civilians on the day of Janta Curfew and police officials of Narkeldanga Police Station, just meters away from the place, chose to turn a blind eye. There was also a reprehensible incident of WB Police allowing a Maulvi to preach how performing Namaz can help combat Coronavirus, inside the police station.
It is evident that, be it Kolkata Police or WB Police, government officials of the state have been told by the minority-appeasing ruling party to reserve all their high-handedness for Hindus, while meekly looking the other way when challenged by “minorities”. The killing of an innocent Lal Swami is just another addition in the succession of Hindu deaths at the hands of police personnel in the state. Back in September 2018, West Bengal police had open fired on Bengali students who were protesting Urdu enforcement. Two youth had lost their lives then.
As per latest updates, West Bengal has reported 18 cases of Covid-19, the first one being the 18-year-old son of a bureaucrat who returned from London and flouted quarantine restrictions to visit city malls and attend gatherings.
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