"Was Stressed": Tamil Nadu Officer Explains Toppling Fruit Cart On Camera

Speaking to NDTV, Cecil Thomas expressed regret for his conduct and said, "I was stressed out. I've spoken to the vendors' community and have expressed regret."

The officer in Tirupattur district was seen pushing vegetable and fruit carts in a market.

Tirupattur:

A senior government officer in Tamil Nadu was seen toppling carts of vegetables and fruits, throwing away the produce of roadside vendors, in a video that is viral.

Cecil Thomas, the municipal commissioner of the town of Vaniyambadi in Tirupattur district, was seen in a two-minute video, shouting at roadside vendors for allegedly putting up shops in the municipality's market place. Putting up stalls or carts by the side of the road is apparently banned in the area.

Besides toppling carts loaded with fruits and vegetables, he is seen upturning trays of oranges and carelessly throwing bunches of bananas on the ground.

A crater full of tomatoes is seen being moved away.

The Tamil Nadu government had permitted shops and push carts on the side of roads only a few days ago, relaxing restrictions after more than 40 days into the nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The vendors union in Tirupattur has sought action against the officer.

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Speaking to NDTV, Cecil Thomas expressed regret for his conduct and said, "I was stressed out. I've spoken to the vendors' community and have expressed regret...The market area is not meant for push carts. Many were neither wearing masks nor following social distancing rules, paving way for the spread of COVID-19."

The lockdown period and restrictions, many say, have triggered a new wave of such behavior by the authorities. In many districts across Tamil Nadu, law enforcers have been caught on camera forcing violators to squat, run in circles, walk backwards and recite slogans.

Many police officials also drew flak for using drone cameras to chase small groups of people. Many such people including children were seen running away, putting their lives at risk as police drones followed them in the sky. "Most of the police personnel are sympathetic and sensitive. A few incidents like this go viral and create a bad impression. The long, non-stop lockdown has put enforcement agencies on the ground stressed out," a senior police officer told NDTV.

Recently, a team of policemen in western Uttar Pradesh's Meerut was seen in a viral overturning vegetable carts.