Indian man shopping for milk under curfew dies after alleged police beating

Under terms of the lockdown, shoppers are allowed to break curfew if buying essential supplies like groceries or medicines

Premium
Police across India have been accused of beating citizens breaking curfew to buy essentials like medicine or food
Police across India have been accused of beating citizens breaking curfew to buy essentials like medicine or food Credit: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

A 32-year-old man from West Bengal has died after allegedly being beaten by police while out shopping for milk during the coronavirus curfew.

There are numerous other reports from across India of police wrongly using force against shoppers out purchasing supplies like groceries or medicine.

During an address to the nation on Tuesday evening, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week total lockdown would be implemented across the entire country.

However, he did specify that Indians would be permitted to leave their homes to purchase groceries and medicines, as long as they adhered to ‘social distancing’. 

The victim, who is from the city of Howrah, had left his home on Wednesday to buy milk but was charged by police brandishing wooden sticks, known as lathi.

The beating caused him to suffer a cardiac arrest and he died shortly afterwards. Police in Howrah have denied the charge. 

In New Delhi, footage posted on social media showed police smashing up the interior of a meat shop and beating residents out shopping for groceries.

“Some homes that I work in paid me some money and I thought it was best to get some food in the house,” Alok Barman, a servant in several south New Delhi households, told Associated Press.

“But the police attacked us with sticks and beat us, now we have nothing to eat.”

India is currently under an unprecedented three-week total lockdown in an attempt to stop the further spread of coronavirus Credit: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images

New Delhi police spokesman Anil Mittal denies the police had beaten anyone.

Other footage showed police in the state of Uttar Pradesh forcing young men who had broken curfew being forced to crawl down the street wearing backpacks.

The number of coronavirus cases in India surged to 716 today, up from 606 yesterday. This is the biggest increase in 24 hours since the outbreak began.

The Indian public health care system is one of the most critically underfunded and understaffed in the region.

A study by the University of Michigan projected that India could have experienced up to 1.3 million cases by mid-May if new cases had carried on increasing at the pre-lockdown rate.

Mr. Modi hopes the three-week curfew will ensure the rate of infections slows and the Indian healthcare services do not become overwhelmed.