Following outrage over authorities in Uttar Pradesh spraying a group of migrant workers with bleach amid the coronavirus pandemic, fire department officials in Kerala have said that they used a jet of soap and water in a disinfection drive widely shared on social media.
Dozens of men returning home amid a 21-day nationwide lockdown were made to squat on the road and sprayed with bleach which is toxic to humans by civic officials in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly district about 270 km from Lucknow on Sunday.
The incident led to anger on social media with opposition leaders slamming the officials over the clip, calling the action "inhuman". The district administration has promised action against "over-zealous" officials and assured treatment for those affected.
The incident also prompted comparisons to one in Kerala last week where a group of about 40 bikers a check-post on the Kerala-Karnataka border in Muthanga were seen sprayed with a liquid to "disinfect" them.
For those questioning UP's move to spray disinfectant on migrants. Well, this video is from Kerala. Kerala Fire Service personnel spraying disinfectant on those who are entering the state.— Kushal Kumar Sinha (@KushalSinha001) March 30, 2020
Any thoughts on this ?
Video credits - @CjVarghese96pic.twitter.com/5mWmG4OTm8
Amid questions over the video, filmed last Monday, fire department officials said they had only used a combination of soap and water.
"This was being done irrespective of religion, caste or background, as a strong precautionary measure since Wayanad at that time, did not have even one case," a senior police official said.
More than 1,000 people have been affected by coronavirus in India and at least 29 people have died in the coronavirus outbreak that hit the country in late January.
The pandemic has been followed by reports of authorities enforcing precautionary measures and the subsequent lockdown using questionable tactics and excessive force.
The lockdown, that came two months after the global spread of the pandemic, was announced without allowing people to prepare, leaving millions without access to food and basic necessities.
For many living on daily incomes and migrant workers, the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week meant being stranded without work, food and shelter, forcing them to walk hundreds of kilometres to their home states on foot.