India’s poor people are burdened by a policy pandemic as the country struggles to stop the deadly second wave of COVID-19 by imposing stricter gender rules and restricting migration. transfer, rights advocates said.
Street vendors, slum dwellers, food deliverers and migrant workers are the most likely to break a banning law – from fines for not wearing a mask or on the street to closing counters roadside goods, according to trade unions and activists.
Dharmendra Kumar, secretary of Janpahal, a charity that works with street vendors, said: “Our hands-on experience shows that police target the poor, marginalized and the underprivileged. can’t speak.
“When micro containment zones are being established and markets are closed, the police are in charge of the streets. With pandemic policy reasons, they fall victim to street vendors, pedestrians and the poor, ”he said.
The daily number of deaths attributed to India’s COVID-19 hit a new record on Tuesday as the health system collapsed under the weight of patients and confirmed infections increased closer to the U.S. most heavily influenced in the world.
Police enforcing the door lock rules have faced charges of arbitrary and harsh treatment, especially since the death in custody of a father and son locked up for violating a lockout. coronavirus nationwide last June.
A policeman was caught beating customers and staff at a restaurant in Tamil Nadu state last week after asking them to close even though they did not violate the door lock rules.
Many states have called on police authorities to avoid such outrageous behavior during the health crisis.
Earlier this month, in New Delhi, where a six-day ban on doors lasted on Monday, civil authorities sided with disgruntled stall owners at a weekly market, who were hit by police. must be packed earlier than health regulations.
The police, however, emphasized the officers’ job in assisting local communities during the crackdown, saying they were often out of duty to help those in need.
A recent report by the Police Research and Development Department highlights the “humane approach” of officers in the crackdowns, citing examples of migrant helpers and distributing flyers. Products. Officials from the interior ministry, which oversees the police, were not immediately available to comment.
According to a study by the Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project (CPAProject), it is the uneven enforcement of locking regulations that lead to punishing disadvantaged communities, tribes and Other vulnerable groups.
The independent research agency analyzed 500 police complaints and 34,000 arrests in the state of Madhya Pradesh and found that officers are using “huge” discretion in enforcing restrictions. .
“The police have decided who has a valid reason to go out and who doesn’t… even in the case of someone going out to refuel or buy needed stuff. “All police complaints are” inadequate reasons, “said Nikita Sonavane, co-founder of CPAProject.
Research shows that the proportion of cases against pedestrians increased from 50 percent on the first lock to 89 percent on the third session, with shop owners and street vendors among the the biggest “crime, research shows.
Dayashankar Singh, president of Azad Hawkers Union, which represents about 31,000 street vendors in Mumbai, said roadside fruit and vegetable vendors have been asked to close their stores.
“I sent a letter to the police that they should follow government guidelines and fine those floating guidelines, not acting against the entire street vendor community,” he said.
“Food suppliers are under threat that their food will be thrown away. We also received complaints that their pans and cooking oil were seized by the police, ”Singh said.
Such stories are an “eye opening” for illustrator Anurag Ekka, who worked with CPAProject to create a comic book series called “Polices in the lockdown”.
Based on a fictitious greengrocer who struggles to understand his rights and make a living under embargo, the manga has been translated into 10 Indian languages and is being used by human rights organizations as a advocacy tools.
“Facts and figures are always very abstract and the idea is to give a face to numbers,” Ekka told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
While the protagonist of the manga Phullobai was thrown vegetables to the ground by police and a man who went out to buy medicine for his parents was fined, a driver found to have been unlocked was given a break.
For street dealers struggling to find out because restrictions keep many customers at home, such incidents have exacerbated their pandemic woes.
Joginder Verma, 23, a Mumbai-based fruit vendor from Uttar Pradesh state, said last year police refused to let him set up stalls – forcing him to join an exodus of workers Immigration moves out of major cities of the country.
“My fruits are rotting and I have to throw them in the trash before leaving my village,” he said. “I now have a loan of 20,000 Indian rupees (266 USD). I have never borrowed before ”.