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Jammu and Kashmir police use batons and FIRs to enforce COVID-19 lockdown, hospitals struggle

On the evening of 26 March, a group of around five policemen armed with batons rounded up at least ten men who were present at Jammu city’s Bharat Mata Chowk, according to Naresh Bhagat, a photojournalist at the daily newspaper Early Times who witnessed the scene.

Bhagat told me that the policemen beat the ten men with lathis, and made them sit on the road, each around a metre away from the other. One policeman walked around the men who had been forced to sit and directed them to repeat each sentence he said. “Say that ‘We’re enemies of the society,'” the policemen directed, and the ten men repeated meekly in unison. They followed all of the policeman’s statements: “We’re enemies of the police”; “We’re enemies of the country”; “We’re enemies of Modi sahab.”

The policemen then made the men promise that they will stay indoors and follow the prime minister’s instructions. They then asked the men to get lost and chased them with batons. Bhagat told me he had witnessed many such cases in Jammu since the countrywide lockdown was imposed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

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