Ten foreigners who broke a coronavirus lockdown in an Indian town made famous by the Beatles, were forced to repent by writing ‘I am so sorry’ – 500 times, officials said Sunday.
The nationwide lockdown was imposed near the end of March, with residents permitted to leave their homes only for essential services such as buying groceries and medicine.
The travellers – from Israel, Mexico, Australia and Austria – were caught taking a walk in Rishikesh, where The Beatles sought spirituality at an Ashram in 1968.
Local police officer Vinod Sharma said they were each made to write ‘I did not follow the rules of lockdown so I am so sorry’ 500 times.
Two of the tourists seen here being made to write out ‘I did not follow the rules of lockdown so I am so sorry’ 500 times
The incident happened in Tapovan area, one of the most popular tourist spots in Rishikesh
More than 700 foreign tourists from the US, Australia, Mexico and Israel staying in the area had flouted the lockdown rules, Sharma said, adding the unusual punishment was handed out to teach them a lesson.
Police said they would direct hotels in the area to allow foreign guests to step out only if accompanied by local helpers.
Establishments that did not follow the order could face legal action, Sharma said.
Police have come up with unusual methods to encourage people to stay home to halt the spread of the deadly disease, including wearing coronavirus-shaped helmets.
A police officer in Chennai, India, seen here wearing a coronavirus-shaped helmet to raise awareness of the disease during a procession
The same policeman marching with colleagues as part of the procession in Chennai on April 12
The same police officer in the coronavirus helmet distributing literature about the disease to residents in Chennai on April 12
A sight to behold – one Chennai resident covers his face upon seeing the policeman in the helmet
The policeman wearing the coronavirus helmet holding placards with others during a procession
But officers in some states were also seen in videos on social media beating drivers on roadsides and making people out and about during lockdown do squats and leapfrogs as punishment.
On Sunday, police said they arrested nine people violating the lockdown after an officer’s hand was chopped off in northern Punjab state’s Patiala district.
The group were stopped in a vehicle at a checkpoint and – refusing to turn back as ordered – hit the accelerator and smashed into steel barricades, officials said.
During the clash, one of the group pulled out a sword, slicing off a policeman’s hand. Six more officers were injured in the attack, police said.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to extend a nationwide lockdown that was originally to end on Tuesday, for another two weeks.
Some states have already extended the restrictions.
Medical staff in full protective clothing descend on a residential area in Amritsar on April 1
They were out to screen people in the wake of the virus outbreak and nationwide lockdown
Some medical staff in Amritsar asking important questions about people’s health and behaviours
Amritsar residents seen here in face coverings, one preventative measure against the virus
On Sunday, India had registered more than 8,300 coronavirus cases and 273 deaths from the disease.
The move to extend India’s lockdown came after increased pressure to do so during a video conference between Prime Minister Modi with state ministers on Saturday.
The steps to extend the lockdown comes amid concerns about its impact on India’s poorest communities.
Several million migrant workers in India have been forced out of work owing to the virus, with the least affluent among them suffering more than most.
Infection rates across India have been varied, with some states seeing larger jumps in cases, according to the BBC.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to say Prime Minister Modi had ‘taken a correct decision to extend the lockdown’, without saying for how long.
‘If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost. To consolidate, it is important to extend it’ he said.
Later on Saturday, Modi’s office reported there ‘seems to be a consensus’ among chief ministers to extend lockdown measures by two weeks.
Prime Minister Modi also described the next three to four weeks in the country as ‘critical’.
There has been no official confirmation as yet.