Human rights bodies ask police to ensure marginalised are not mistreated during lockdownPTI | New Delhi | Updated: 28-03-2020 20:38 IST | Created: 28-03-2020 20:32 IST
The Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Saturday urged police forces in the country to act with restraining while maintaining law and order during the coronavirus lockdown. The lockdown has left millions stranded, struggling to search for food and water, Amnesty International India (AII) executive director Avinash Kumar said in a statement. "Unfortunately for these people, the state machinery has become a larger threat than the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
This is "unfortunate" and the Indian government must ensure that "insensitivity and brute force be replaced by people-friendly measures in battling the pandemic", he said. Kumar said India should respect and protect the rights of those under quarantine and ensure that their basic needs are met, including adequate shelter, food, water and sanitation.
HRW South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly too urged Indian authorities to ensure that everyone has access to food and medical care and that the poor and marginalized are not mistreated or stigmatized. "The Indian government's responsibility to protect its people from the outbreak should not come at the cost of human rights violations," she said. Tens of thousands of out-of-work migrant workers are stranded with rail and bus services shut down in the country. "Police actions to punish those violating orders have reportedly resulted in abuses against people in need," she alleged.
"Indian police should be ordered to act with restraint while enforcing the lockdown. In several states, photos and videos show police beating people who are trying to get essential supplies. In West Bengal, police allegedly beat a 32-year-old man to death, after he stepped out of his home to get milk," she said.