New Delhi: A 22-year-old migrant worker who had returned from Gurgaon to his native place in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh died by suicide in a school campus where he was quarantined. Two purported audio clips recorded by Roshan Lal, a Dalit, suggest that he was beaten up by a constable in public for defying the quarantine guidelines, prompting him to end his life.
According to the Indian Express, Roshan Lal claims in the audio clips, which went viral on social media, that the thrashing caused severe injuries to him. He belonged to the Pipariya village under Maigalganj police station area of the district. The newspaper reported that his family members and other residents of the village staged a protest and refused to cremate the body until a case is lodged against the constable who allegedly thrashed Lal.
Lal worked as an electrician in Gurgaon and had returned to his village on March 29. In accordance with the procedure, he was quarantined by village officials in a school campus.
According to the Indian Express, in one of the audio clips, Lal says he had exited the quarantine centre after getting a call from his sister-in-law, asking him to get some grains ground. “After that, a constable named Anoop came there and asked if I am Roshan. I said yes. He beat me up severely. My right hand is not working. Then he made me speak to the chowki in-charge. I asked him to help me get treated. He did not help me.”
In the clip, Lal says that his trousers are stained in blood, which he says happened during the thrashing by the constable. “I don’t want to live now. Action should be taken against constable Anoop Kumar Singh. Because of him, I am killing myself,” he says.
Roshan’s brother Bankey Lal also asserted that a constable called Anoop Kumar Singh had thrashed the 22-year-old. The constable “assaulted” his brother and fractured his left hand and inflicted injuries on other parts of his body, he said. “They also shot a video of the incident to shame him,” said Bankey, according to the Indian Express.
He claimed that the police had refused to lodge an FIR against the constable and said the family will not cremate Lal’s body until the FIR is registered. “Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we can be humiliated in the village and nothing will happen to those who are responsible for doing this,” said the brother.
A senior police officer in the district said Roshan maybe was “slapped a couple of times” by the constable because he had violated his quarantine.
Since the nationwide lockdown was imposed, there have been many instances of police assaulting violators. While Section 188 of the IPC allows police to take action against violators of the curfew, it does not enable assault. Many have also criticised the government’s approach to the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent lockdown as a law and order problem, not a health crisis.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers (www.spif.in/seek-help/) they can call to speak in confidence. You could also appear them to the nearest hospital.