Just Like George Floyd? In Jodhpur, Cop Seen Placing a Knee on a Man’s Neck

Social Commentary

Just Like George Floyd? In Jodhpur, Cop Seen Placing a Knee on a Man’s Neck

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

In March, when the lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic began in India, many clips began doing the rounds of social media showing police using extreme force to ensure citizens stay indoors. Some were lathi-charged, many were made to crawl on the road and do frog jumps for violating norms. It was inhuman. As the lockdown went through its many phases, and people became accustomed to the new rhythm of life, reports of police violence began to be seen less frequently.

But in the US, the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man at the hands of a police officer who placed his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes while arresting him saw massive protests break out across that country, and spark a renewed discussion about police brutality. Eerily enough, a similar video has emerged from Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, in which a police constable is seen detaining a man for not wearing a mask in the city (which is still under lockdown) by placing a knee on his neck in a manner similar to the US cop who caused George Floyd’s death.

The video has reopened the Pandora’s Box that is the conduct of Indian police departments. The Indian Express, while reporting on the video, found that the man being held down by the constables is Mukesh Kumar Prajapat, and had been stopped for not wearing a mask in a public place. Upon being confronted by the police, Prajapat reportedly became violent and began a physical tussle with police, and it is halfway through this tussle, when the constable’s knee is already on Prajapat’s neck, that the video begins. Jodhpur DCP (West) Priti Chandra has come out in support of the constable, saying that his actions were in self-defence, the report says.

But what is worrying is that police do not even think twice before resorting to violence in India. And care little about consequences because there are none.

A reminder of how police get away with brutality is the Jamia Millia Islamia incident, where they barged inside libraries and beat up unarmed students. Now the Delhi Police have denied allegations of violence on Jamia campus to the Delhi High Court. The CCTV footage from that night, however, showed policemen using force against students and damaging property, prompting calls for a probe into their behaviour. However, Delhi Police have told the High Court that there is no need for a probe, as it is investigating the matter itself!

Isn’t it hypocritical then that the Indian Police Foundation condemned the killing of George Flyod?