Gowry Nanda was stepping out of an ATM when she saw police officers allegedly speaking roughly to an elderly man for supposedly violating COVID-19 protocol.

Student questioning police officer
news News Wednesday, July 28, 2021 - 20:02

In a controversial incident, an 18-year-old student in Kerala’s Kollam district was booked by police on Monday, July 26, after she questioned police who were allegedly levying fines on people standing in a queue in front of a bank, citing violation of COVID-19 protocol. The video of Gowry Nanda, the student, standing up to the police went viral on social media. Gowry also brought the police complaint before the Kerala State Youth Commission, after which the Chadayamangalam police, who booked Gowry, dropped the case.

The incident took place on July 26, when Chadayamangalam native Gowry Nanda, a plus two student and her mother were coming home from visiting a hospital. She allegedly saw police berating an elderly man for not following COVID-19 protocol, and went up to the officers to ask what the issue was. In the video that went viral, Gowry is seen having a heated argument with the police. Though it is not clear what she is raising questions about in the beginning of the video, Gowry can be heard saying, “You (the police) are also standing together.” The exchange then became charged as one of the officials is heard saying, “You don’t need to teach me. I know to do my work responsibly.” He then walks away, and Gowry starts questioning the other officer. He replies, “Since you are a woman I cannot touch you or I would have pushed you aside now.”

The camera then points to a bystander, who alleged that the police were “illegally” levying fines only on a few people. He added that Gowry told him to file a complaint, for which she was issued a ‘petty notice’. According to Gowry, she was then booked under non-bailable charges, accusing her of obstructing an official on duty, for the incident.

Scores of people have taken to social media hailing the student for standing up to the police. Gowry told TNM that she only intervened as she saw the officials behaving badly with an elderly person.

“I was coming with my mother from the hospital and on the way, we stopped at an ATM. There is a bank nearby and people had been standing in front of it in a queue following physical distance. But while coming out of the ATM, I saw police roughing up an elderly man. I only intervened asking what the problem was as a citizen,” she said.

Gowry further added that she retorted as the police allegedly used abusive language against her. “The Sub Inspector used an abusive word, which is why I retorted. And they said, since I was a woman they did not do anything. What is wrong with being a woman? What was the need to specifically point this out? There is no difference between men and women,” she said.

She added that she only came to know about the charge being non-bailable through the media. “I thought it was just a fine that was imposed. Only through the media, I came to know it was a non-bailable case. No one from the station informed me of this. My advocate however, called and confirmed this,” she explained.

However, after the incident went viral, the Kerala Women’s Commission officials contacted Gowry. “Shahida Kamal (a member of the Women’s Commission) called me and said the police dropped the case and asked if I have any complaints. Since the case was dropped, I didn’t raise a complaint,” she added.

Meanwhile, the State Youth Commission has reportedly sought a report from the state Police Chief on the matter.

The Chadayamangalam police were unavailable for comment.

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