Videos showed an angry crowd gathering around a vehicle carrying his body, even as the police attempted to stop it from moving forward.

Andhra man dies after allegedly being manhandled by police for being out during lockdown
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, April 20, 2020 - 14:03

Tension prevailed in Sattenapalle town in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district after a man named Mohammed Ghouse (35) died on Monday after being questioned, and allegedly manhandled by police officers for venturing out during the lockdown. 

The incident took place at around 8 am, and people in the town are allowed to step out for essentials between 6 am and 9 am. Further, though Ghouse was out well within the designated time period, he was also reportedly buying medicines, which is allowed through the day.

After Ghouse passed away, the residents of the town were taking his body in a vehicle. Videos showed a large crowd gathering around the vehicle, even as the police attempted to stop it from moving forward. Angry locals are seen pushing two police officers aside, before the vehicle moves forward. 

Further, a large crowd gathered in Sattenapalle in protest, which the police tried to pacify. The gathering also raised concerns as Guntur district has reported 149 cases of COVID-19 so far and has been classified as a red zone. Four people have also died from the disease in the district. 

Sattenapalle MLA Ambati Rambabu as well as district police authorities have acknowledged the incident and stated that an enquiry will be conducted and strict action will be taken against those who are found responsible. 

“An unfortunate incident happened today in Sattenapalle town. A young boy called Ghouse was manhandled by the police and he eventually died. The town Sub-Inspector manhandled him and this tragedy happened. I strongly condemn the incident, and express my sympathy to his family. I have spoken to the Superintendent of Police and asked to take immediate action on the SI responsible for this,” Ambati Rambabu said in a statement.

Police mention no manhandling

In a statement after the protests broke out, Guntur Range Inspector General of Police Prabhakar Rao said, "After 20 new cases were reported in Narasaraopet town nearby, police vigilance was increased and the roads to Narasaraopet were strictly blocked."

The senior official said that 35-year-old Sheik Ghouse from Venkatapathi nagar colony was riding his two-wheeler when he was stopped at the checkpost. “As he didn't give a clear explanation, the local sub inspector took away the keys to the vehicle. Ghouse then began to sweat and was made to sit down nearby," he said.

He added that as Ghouse seemed to faint, his relative arrived and shifted him to a hospital, where he passed away. 

"Since allegations have surfaced, we are conducting an inquiry and action will be taken against those found guilty. A case of unnatural death is being registered. The SI Ramesh Babu has been suspended for now," the police officer said. 

However, he made no mention of Ghouse being manhandled.  

The relative who accompanied Ghouse to the hospital said that Ghouse had been suffering from a heart problem and had stepped out to buy medicines, but had forgotten his prescription. 

“He had fainted on the street. I brought him to the hospital and he died within 30 minutes,” the relative said.

Further details are awaited. Stating that Ghouse’s death is extremely upsetting, Ambati Rambabu said that there are no COVID-19 deaths in Sattenapalle town so far.  

Inquiry into incident

Guntur Additional Superintendent of Police also said that an inquiry into the incident has already begun and action will be taken against the SI or constable if they are found guilty. 

“We accept that what happened is tragic and unfortunate. The inquiry has started. We are talking to everyone, and will send the inquiry report by today (Monday) itself,” he said.

At present, Andhra Pradesh has reported 722 cases of COVID-19, of which 610 are active.

Read: Record 5,508 COVID-19 tests conducted in a single day, says Andhra govt

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