A day after police wielded lathi at motorists at Singanallur junction on Wednesday evening, some of the personnel continued clamp down on newspaper agents, food delivery agents, milk vendors and even people who came out for essential services on Thursday.
On Thursday, the police chased and beat a differently-abled man from R.S.Puram who had come out to buy medicine.
Newspaper agents who supply various dailies were stopped by some police personnel who were on duty at places like R.S. Puram, Ramanathapuram, Singanallur and some parts of Coimbatore rural.
“The policeman raised lathi at me and warned that I should not be seen around. When said that I was delivering newspapers, the policeman wanted to see my ID card which newspaper boys do not have”, said a newspaper agent from R.S. Puram area.
J. James, Coimbatore district President of Coimbatore district President of Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises, had bitter experience from the police when he was travelling alone from his house at Venkatapuram to Saibaba Colony on Thursday morning.
“I saw policemen standing on the road from a distance and they were showing sign with lathis to return. As I reached the place, they rushed to my car shouting at me. I told them that I was going to a bank at Saibaba Colony and bank services are exempted from the lockdown. They harassed in abusive language and asked me to return. I was allowed to go only when a sub-inspector intervened and asked me to show proof for purpose of travel. I showed my cheque book after which the officer permitted me to go,” he said.
S. Balamurugan, advocate and national council member of People's Union for Civil Liberty, wanted the Madras High Court and the National Human Rights Commission to take suo motu cognizance of the police high handedness, beating common public with lathi indiscriminately.
“The police violence on motorists was sheer violation of human rights. Enforcement of Section 144 of the CrPC or Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 does not accord them the right to beat people with lathi. This shows that the police lack experience in handling crisis like an epidemic outbreak and they took lathi to handle it as a law and order situation,” he said.
V. P. Sarathi, Chairperson of Coimbatore Human Rights Forum (CHRF), said that he had complained to the NHRC against the Coimbatore city police requesting it to immediately stop them from beating the public, many of whom have ventured out to buy and deliver essentials.
“The police also denied food to the differently-abled man at R.S. Puram by chasing away a food delivery agent who had come to deliver a parcel for him. NHRC has accepted the complaint,” he said.
According to Mr. Sarathi, while appealing to the public to strictly avoid non-essential movement, police authorities cannot continue to be indiscriminate and violate human rights to life in its drive to implement orders under Section 144 of criminal procedure code. It violated human rights to life and liberties as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India by lathi-charging and causing grievous hurt to the members of the public who had ventured out to buy essential commodities, he said.
“It may be noted that assembly of only more than four persons is unlawful and punishable under Section 188 (1) the person can be arrested by the police and kept under detention for some time for the disobedience and let off on bail. The punishment under the Act, after trial, can go up to one month simple imprisonment if he is convicted”, he said.
A senior police officer of Coimbatore city police said that all personnel were instructed to avoid such incidents. As a result, a lot of newspaper delivery boys, loadmen, drivers and shop assistants have made it clear that they would return to work only after the lockdown period is over. This is likely to hit the essential commodities supply, point out residents who were waiting in queue at shops.