SRINAGAR: A senior Baramulla district official drew condemnation Wednesday after a video surfaced online in which he is purportedly seen hitting people, including women, with a stick to enforce the coronavirus lockdown, prompting the authorities to seek a report from the deputy commissioner.
The official, Baramulla Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Mohammad Ahsan Mir, apologised after the video went viral, but said, “I feel until we do something extraordinary, people will not understand.”
The Kashmir divisional administration later sought a factual report from deputy commissioner Baramulla about the incident.
“I am directed to request you to kindly send the factual report viz a viz the context of the situation and the content of the video to this office as soon as possible,” Qazi Sarwar, the Additional Commissioner in the Divisional Commissioner’s office, said in a letter to the Baramulla Deputy Commissioner.
In the video, the ADC is purportedly seen screaming at and flogging an elderly woman while asking her to go back.
He is then seen hitting a man twice, kicking him around before pushing him away with a stick.
He is also seen raising the stick at another woman who pleaded before him, and then flogging another person who was carrying timber on a handcart.
The ADC then goes on to hit an elderly man as he tries to shut the door of a premises in the market.
His “rowdy act” evoked widespread criticism on social media and demand for strict action.
“Law enforcement agencies can’t behave like GOONS. With Authority there is Responsibility. Strict action should be taken against him for violating Human Rights. He can”t beat people,” BJP leader Sheikh Khaled Jehangir tweeted.
A Twitter user, Inam-ul-Haq, said the act was shameful and demanded action against Mir in the same manner as in the case of West Tripura District Magistrate Sailesh Kumar Yadav who was transferred days after a video of him disrupting a wedding midway in a bid to enforce Covid-19 norms went viral on social media.
“Shameful Act: ADC Baramulla beating people including women! Action needs to be taken against him like Tripura DM,” he said.
Another user KarIremarx said the “violent and rowdy behaviour” by the official is “shameful”.
“This is ADC Baramulla beating people with a stick including women to observe lockdown. What is this way of imposing the lockdown? This violent and rowdy behaviour by the officers is shameful. DC Baramulla should take note immediately,” he wrote, referring to the video.
Waseem Gul, another Twitter user, said no one is above law and tagged the Twitter handles of the offices of Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor.
“ADC Baramulla beating people & is not even spearing women. This is a shameful act and strict action needs to be taken. Nobody is above law,” he said.
In his defence, Mir said all he was trying to was to enforce the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus.
“Whatever happened was unfortunate. Basically, a story was broadcast yesterday that there was no lockdown in Baramulla. So, I set out at 6 am to implement the lockdown. I was not carrying a stick but a corn stalk. Unfortunately, a video was made,” Mir told PTI.
When told that he was being accused of the taking the law into his own hands, the official said he did not beat up anyone.
“I only raised the stick, but did not beat anyone. I only hit a man just because he was a policeman (in civvies) and told him that he should not have come out during the lockdown.”
“People were coming out unnecessarily and it was only a deterrent to make people understand the gravity of the situation,” he said.
“If there is some excess, I apologise,” he said, however, adding, “I feel until we do something extraordinary, people will not understand.”