A group of migrants heading home after the lockdown was hosed down with a chlorine solution in Bareilly, triggering criticism and then an admission from the local authorities that the act was ‘overzealous’.
A state government official, however, argued that such spraying of people is permitted internationally. But the authorities did not follow the right procedure, he said.
A fire brigade official said the migrants were sprayed with a solution containing sodium hypochlorite which is often used to keep swimming pools sanitised.
The incident, caught on video and shared on social media, took place at Bareilly’s Satellite bus station on Sunday. The clip showed several migrants squatting on the ground as men in protective suits hosed them down. Someone is heard telling people to shut their eyes as the spraying begins.
Several people in the group, which included women and children, complained of a burning sensation in the eyes. Chief Fire Officer C M Sharma said spraying the group with sodium hypochlorite was necessary for “disinfecting”.
He said there is a burning sensation for “two or three seconds” in the eyes when it gets into them, “but it doesn't harm them”.
As a row erupted over the incident, District magistrate Nitish Kumar blamed it on “overzealous” civic body personnel and said action is being taken against them.