Bengaluru

Volunteers at barricades accused of high-handedness

There is no formal system in place to decide who can be a volunteer

Citizen-volunteers roped in to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown in Bengaluru to aid the police at the 400-odd barricades across the city are facing accusations of high-handedness. Complaints are coming in of citizens being verbally abused and, in some cases, not being allowed to move despite having passes, all in the presence of policemen.

“I was stopped by volunteers at a barricade in Vidyaranyapura recently. Despite having a pass, I was not allowed to go. They asked me to prove that the pass was genuine. I was at a loss as to how I could do that. At least six volunteers surrounded my car as if I was a criminal. They were aggressive with me even as the policemen watched on,” said Sandeep Kumar, a shopkeeper, who was on his way to his store.

There is no formal system in place to decide who can be a volunteer.

“The local police manning these posts may have taken help from some citizens in the area if they came forward to pitch in. But these volunteers can only assist the police in their duties and cannot handle the citizens themselves,” said one of the Deputy Commissioners of Police. “It is usually people from Resident Welfare Associations and political workers, mostly associated with the local MLA, who have pitched in,” said an inspector.

Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said that volunteers were only there to help the police and cannot act as extra-constitutional authorities. “I will take cognisance of the issue and ensure they are reined in,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:51:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/volunteers-at-barricades-accused-of-high-handedness/article31273749.ece

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