Lucknow: RoshanLal, 26, a dalit youth who had migrated from Uttar Pradesh to Gurugramin Haryana for livelihood, walked to his native village Fariya Pipariya, which falls under Lakhimpur Kheri district since India's 21-day lockdown began on March 24. Little did he know that he was walking into the mouth of death.Roshan was found hanging from a tree on Wednesday after he was allegedly beaten up by UP police for reportedly breaching quarantine rules.
As per reports, Roshan had returned to his village on Sunday, March 29, six days after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown. Ever since the daily wager returned to his village, he was living in a primary school after district administration had put him on 14-day quarantine.
Before allegedly committing suicide, Roshan recorded audio clip son his phone and sent it to his friends and family members. He accuseda policeman and also named him and demanded action against him for beating him up mercilessly. In one purported audio clip, the 26-year-old can be heard saying: "Friends, if nobody trusts me, anyone can take my pants off and see. You will not find anything expect blood clots all over my body.... After that, I committed suicide because I do not want to live. Since my hands are broken, what will I do now?”
As per media reports, the deceased youth recorded three audio clips before allegedly taking his own life.
"I also want to tell you that if someone claims after my death that I committed suicide because I was tested COVID-19 positive, it will be a cover-up. I was tested negative and I have all the results. I want to die on my own. But I want action to be taken against that cop Anoop Kumar Singh. He has beaten me mercilessly and just because of him I committed suicide," he is heard saying in the last clip, his voice quivering.
Meanwhile, Roshan’sfamily claimed that Roshan begged for help and when nobody came forward, he was forced to take this extreme step.
Commenting on the possible reason behind the death, Kranti Singh, a leader of Samajwadi Party (SP),said he was told that Roshan had isolated himself after he returned, but ever since the administration order on people who returned from elsewhere, he was placed in quarantine for 14 days.
"Roshan was in quarantine on March 30 and 31. His brother's wife came and informed him that flour is over and asked him to bring some from a mini flour mill as there is nobody at home. He stepped out and reached the mill. Later, two cops followed him. They first abused him then beat him black and blue, in which his left arm broken", he claimed.
The SP leader said he had learnt that since Roshanfelt humiliated, he first sent the flour home throughsomeone and then went to a field where he committed suicide by hanging from a tree.
‘UP POLICE TREATING MIGRANTS LIKE UNTOUCHABLES’
Under the garb of COVID-19, the Uttar Pradesh police has been harassing jobless migrant workers and treating them as untouchables in quarantine, as can be seen in various reports and videos, including one in which a chemical is sprayed on returning migrant workers.
Various reports coming from different district of UP allege that in their attempt to strictly enforce the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, some bureaucrats and police officials are not only naming and shaming the migrant workers but even harassing them in isolation.
"First, the villagers are not letting the workers enter the village and then the gram pradhan (village head) makes them feel that they are corona positive patients and the police deals with them accordingly. Instead of creating a safe atmosphere, the administration is creating panic and the workers are being outcast," an activist said.
Activists claimed there was complete breakdown of law and order in the state. The Yogi Adityanath-led government has given full authority to its police to use batons against the poor daily wagers and put them all in quarantine. In the name of curbing the corona pandemic, they said.
COVID-19 TEST NEGATIVE STILL IN QUARANTINE
Ram Bhawan (28), a native of Ekala village in Gorakhpur district, is a daily wager. He works as a painter near Delhi airport. He returned from Delhi on March 30 by walking and hitch-hiking. He has been kept in isolation in a primary school in his village despite two negative COVID-19 tests.
"I am under quarantine alone in the primary school, Ekala Bazar, since four days. I have been given only a cot by the sarpanch, the rest, such as masks and food, is being provided by my family,” he said.
"When I started my journey from Delhi, I was tested near Kanpur by a group of doctors in front of the cops, I was told I don't have any COVID-19 symptoms and they allowed me to move further. Again in Barabanki, I was tested by a doctor and and the report was the same and I was told to go home. When I landed up at my village, my sarpanch asked me to go through one more test and asked me to stay at a primary school on the outskirts of my village. It's been four days since I am quarantined. Once, a few doctors came but did not take any test and told me that I do not have any symptoms of coronavirus. When I informed my sarpanch, he said that I will have to remain isolated until the doctor examines me."
Ram also claimed that the government was not providing essential commodities, including food, medicines, hand sanitisers, etc to those quarantined.
Several activists NewsClick spoke to alleged that the neither has the administration made any food arrangements for people who are quarantined not has the government released any funds.
"The gram pradhan, who is capable enough, is giving food from his own pocket. Otherwise, family members of those quarantined are bringing food. How then is the quarantine being followed?" a social activist helping migrant workers in Gorakhpur told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, as per media reports, the Uttar Pradesh police have filed more than 6,000 first information reports (FIRs) and booked nearly 19,000 people for breaking the lockdown rules.