Monday, December 30, 2019

That's a Lot of Ashy Little Rascals with Big Ole Ass-Whooping Sticks!

afp |  As Indian protests against a new citizenship law have intensified, so has police use of "lathis", sturdy sticks used to whack, thwack and quell dissent since British colonial times -- to sometimes deadly effect.

At least 27 people have died in the past two weeks of protests, mostly from bullets, but hundreds more have been injured in clashes between demonstrators and riot police wielding the bamboo canes.
Images shot by AFP and other media of officers hitting people with them, in some cases apparently indiscriminately lashing out at passers-by and even minors, has only fuelled public anger.

One video of a group of Muslim women in New Delhi protecting a cowering male fellow student from a police lathi barrage spread like wildfire on social media in India.

Those who have experienced a blow from a lathi, measuring five or six feet (1.5-1.8 metres) and made of stout bamboo or plastic, say it leaves a numbing sensation that lasts for days.

Multiple strikes can break bones, cripple and even kill.

"From being used as means to regulate crowds, lathi has turned into a lethal weapon," said V. Suresh, the secretary general of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a non-profit rights group.

"It is... being freely used, so much so that as a country we have become inured to it. Lathi is seen as a normal but it is a horrible weapon," Suresh told AFP.

"Nothing legitimises its brutal use."

- Fear and awe -
Many believe the lathi originated as a martial arts accessory in South Asia. It was also used by feudal landlords against poor peasants, emerging as a symbol of unquestioned power and authority.