Told to Wear a Mask, Andhra Govt Official Assaults Woman. What’s the Cost of “Rokna, Tokna” in this Country?


Told to Wear a Mask, Andhra Govt Official Assaults Woman. What’s the Cost of “Rokna, Tokna” in this Country?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

“Rokna hoga, tokna hoga aur samjhana hoga,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the country today, urging us to stop those violating the lockdown. A woman in Andhra Pradesh did exactly that. The cost? She was beaten up.

A viral video of a deputy manager of Andhra Pradesh’s tourism department assaulting a woman co-worker after she requested him to wear a face mask is doing the rounds of social media, prompting a huge outcry. The woman, who some publications have reported is differently-abled, had a disagreement with C Bhaskar Rao over him not wearing a mask, which resulted in him storming into the room and brutally assaulting her. She was grievously injured by the assault.­

The incident was captured on CCTV in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, and Rao quickly became infamous as the clip hit the internet. It is a graphic video, featuring Rao pulling the woman off her chair by her hair, and at one point picking up what looks like a rod to continue his attack. A couple of other people in the room attempt to stop him, but not before he manages to hit the woman multiple times. Many were shocked by how brazenly he began his assault, and was allowed to leave the room by the bystanders afterward.

The incident took place on Saturday, June 27. The clip began to circulate, and outrage began to grow. However, it took a few days before the victim was able to register a police complaint. The video was brought to the attention of the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Rekha Sharma, who announced she would take up the case with the weight of the commission behind her.

The police filed charges against Rao under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code. He was eventually arrested. Nellore police chief Bhaskar Bhushan was quoted by NDTV as saying, “We have arrested him following the Covid protocol. He has undergone Covid test and after the results, he will be presented before the magistrate.”

Before CCTV cameras, Rao embodied entitlement, misogyny, and brutish behaviour all at once, and will now hopefully pay the price for his actions.