Chennai: After day one of the lockdown, several videos of police personnel verbally abusing and beating up people who were found on the roads with their two-wheelers or four wheelers emerged on the social media.
Many said that policemen were harsh in handling the public and urged the force to go soft. One instance was of the ill-treatment of a man who stepped out to feed stray dogs, another about two people on a two-wheeler being beaten– they came out to buy provisions.
“Lower middle class families can only buy essentials on a daily basis, not in bulk,” says Arvind of Pattinampakkam. He says his friends were harshly treated by policemen. He says similar things happened in Thousand Lights and Pallavaram too. “The policemen need to be patient and should let people off with a warning. No one steps out with out a genuine reason,” he says.
But, Sub-Inspector of K K Nagar, Raja Ram, paints a different picture. “Yes, we are being strict. We are scolding people. How else do you deal with three persons in a car claiming to be from the media, with no pass or identify card? They said they were going to Koyambedu market, but why should three of them go?”
A police officer at Anna Square said that this morning there was ten per cent traffic on Marina beach. It did not look like Section 144 was in place. The motorists were lying saying they were out on emergency. “Today onwards we have decided to take strict action. In the slum areas around Marina, life goes on as usual. People are not following social distancing.”
Sub-Inspector, Velacheri, Tamilselvi says, “we have been letting off people with a warning. But from tomorrow, we will be filing cases under IPC section 188. What they are doing is violation of section 144.” Sathya, a Sub-Inspector at Egmore, says, “If you want essentials make sure you buy from your area. Do not venture out too far.”
It is said some persons have filed complaints against the behaviour of policemen as well.