On 24 March 2020, India entered into a nation-wide lockdown to contain the spread of the COVID19 pandemic. The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) was invoked to ensure proper state function at a critical time. The majority of the population had very little time to prepare, and initially, guidelines were applied arbitrarily. As a result, for the first week of the pandemic, India effectively became a police state. The police had to assume a range of functions in the foreground of the state’s response to a public health emergency.
The guidelines became clearer over the course of the lockdown, though stories of police violence and overstep were very common. Violence against people performing essential services, like medical care and provisioning, continued. Especially disturbing were stories of violence against marginal groups, such as the homeless, street vendors, and migrant workers who tried to travel back to their villages.Continue reading “De-essentialising the Police | Kishor Govinda”