India coronavirus: Official asked to wear mask assaults female worker

Mr Rao Image copyright Nellore police/ Twitter
Image caption Police say C Bhaskar Rao (in white shirt) attacked a disabled colleague when she asked him to wear a mask

A government official in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has been arrested after he was caught on camera assaulting a female co-worker.

Police said he attacked a disabled colleague when she asked him to wear a mask. The official has not yet commented on the incident.

Police said he had been booked under several sections of India's crime law.

It is mandatory in India to wear a mask when outdoors or with other people to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The video shows C Bhaskar Rao, a deputy manager in the state's tourism department, walking into an office room and dragging a female co-worker by her hair, throwing her to the floor.

He then goes on to beat her, at one point stopping to pick up a short stick-like object from a nearby desk.

Several people in the room intervene, with one man holding Mr Rao's arm, trying to stop him.

He is eventually stopped and led away.

The office, where the incident took place, has been set up in a hotel where people arriving from abroad are being quarantined for 14 days.

Mr Rao is the deputy manager in the hotel run by the state tourism department. The woman he assaulted is a temporary worker.

"It has come to our attention that Mr Rao was constantly harassing her due to her disability," Nellore deputy superintendent of police Srinivasula Reddy told BBC Telugu.

"On 27 June, she asked Mr Rao to wear a mask. He got angry and attacked her," Mr Reddy said.

"He [Mr Rao] could not tolerate a lower level, contract-based job-holder asking him to wear a mask. So in a fit of rage, he grabbed her hair and assaulted her. He also tried to attack other employees who were blocking him."

Image copyright Nellore police/Twitter
Image caption An inquiry was conducted, leading to Mr Rao's arrest

Mr Reddy said they conducted an inquiry after they received a complaint about the incident and the accused was arrested on Tuesday.

"We have got him tested for coronavirus. As soon as the reports come, we will produce him in court," he added.

Praveen Kumar, managing director of the state's Tourism Development Corporation, said Mr Rao had been suspended.

"The officer violated regulations. The police registered a case and proceeded with legal actions. We have suspended him for violating department regulations. These actions take effect immediately.

"We are setting up a committee for a full investigation into the incident. Further action will be taken based on the report," Mr Kumar told the BBC.

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