Belagavi/ New Delhi:
A commando of the anti-Maoist CoBRA unit, who was arrested last week in Karnataka and allegedly tortured for defying the lockdown over coronavirus and “not wearing a mask”, according to police, was released on bail this afternoon. The commando – Sachin Sunil Sawant- had alleged that he was beaten up, handcuffed, chained at a police station and made to sit on the floor after the cops caught him outside his home in Belagavi, about 500 km from the state capital Bengaluru.
The CoBRA or Commando Battalion for Resolute Action unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is skilled in guerilla warfare and is usually involved in anti-Maoist operations. In videos shared on social media, which sparked criticism, policemen are seen roughing up the soldier.
The commando was washing his bike outside his home on April 23 when a police team reached the spot and started beating him up for not wearing a mask during the lockdown, which began last month to check the spread of highly infectious COVID-19. While the CRPF commando alleged he was thrashed, stripped, handcuffed and made to roam around in the neighbourhood before he was jailed, Karnataka Police has accused him of thrashing a cop.
Images of the commando chained and squatting at what is supposed to be a police station were also shared on social media platforms.
A probe has now been ordered by Karnataka Police after the CRPF in a letter to state police chief Praveen Sood, said that the “unpleasant situation could have been avoided had the state police taken the CRPF hierarchy into confidence” before arresting the commando.
In the letter, the Additional Director General of Police of CRPF Sanjay Arora wrote: “Sawant was manhandled and ill-treated, before his family members and paraded to the police station barefoot, where he was kept in chains and handcuff. From the scrutiny of a viral video on social media, it is apparent that the conduct of police personnel was not citizen centric.”
“IGP Belagavi has been asked to conduct a probe into the incident involving CRPF constable. Action will be taken against guilty after receipt of report,” Karnataka Police chief Praveen Sood said in response.
Among those who condemned the incident was Karnataka Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi . “It was wrong on the part of the constables to ill treat CRPF jawan and an inquiry be conducted against the erring policemen,” he said in a statement.