Manipal Police officers deny using physical force3 min read
Manipal: Under orders from the new Superintendent of Police, Udupi District, K. Annamalai, bars and wine stores are now closing at 11:30 pm in Manipal, restricting night life in the University town. The Manipal Journal(TMJ) followed police activity for three days and found that a blue police vehicle with 8 policemen carried lathis and patrolled the streets of Manipal past curfew, ensuring all businesses were closed.
Stricter regulations have led to increasing tension among the students of Manipal after several of them claimed to be victims of police brutality. Akhilesh Srinivasan*, a student from Kasturba Medical College (KMC), told TMJ that he was attacked outside Crumbs at 11:40 pm on Thursday night by policemen who arrived in a blue jeep. “I was sitting with a girl outside Crumbs when police showed up and flung a lathi at me. I was hit by it but I managed to get away without any further damage. The police did not clarify anything with me before taking action.”
MP S Nambiar, Sub-Inspector at Manipal Police Station, firmly denied these allegations. “We do not use lathis unless absolutely necessary. We have not had cases of police abusing their powers by hitting students with lathis.” But he admitted that sometimes, it is a necessary step since drunk students do not respond to polite requests.
When TMJ investigated these claims, businesses that were found to be still open, the police directed staff to forcibly shut shop but lathis were not used against everyone who stayed out beyond the deadline. However, almost everyone caught were questioned by the police and were only let go after giving a reasonable explanation for being out at that time of the night.
The move comes just days after the death of a MIT second year student, believed to have committed suicide after indulging in substance abuse. Students are no longer allowed to roam freely in the night anymore. Any student staying outside beyond 11:30 pm should have an explanation or he/she could be imprisoned under Section 92 of the Karnataka Police Act (1963). The Act states, offenders may be punished ‘for creating nuisance on the streets’.
Superintendent of Police K. Annamalai said, “We have not introduced new rules. We are only enforcing old rules which have existed for years more strictly. All hotels and bars have to close by 11:30 and we will make sure that it happens.”
In addition, even auto-drivers were asked to stop operating late in the night. Praveen R, an auto-driver in Manipal said, “Police approached us recently and instructed us to stop our business at 11:30 pm.”
The other agenda behind stricter rules in Manipal was the excessive amount of substance abuse happening in the town. In response, apartments are being closely watched by the police with rooms raided in search of drugs. Annamalai elaborated saying, “When we are tipped off with information relating to drugs, we act on it. We don’t have to wait for the permission of the owner under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 Section 91 to enquire about drugs in their apartments.”
Rajiv Singh*, a student from School of Communication (SOC) was one of those affected by the police raids on apartments. “I was at the police station for four hours to prove my innocence. The police asked me a lot of questions and kept asking me for names. I kept telling them that I was not in Manipal for the last 3 months and only arrived few days ago but they didn’t believe until I showed them physical proof of tickets showing that I was in Bangalore.”
*Names have been changed upon request.
Sub-edited by Nadia Lewis