Police in Nepal have raised eyebrows during the Covid-19 pandemic with their unusual technique for arresting violators of the nationwide lockdown: a claw-like clamp attached to a rod that apprehends the offender at a safe distance.
Police have arrested over 9000 people wandering in public places since Nepal on March 24 began enforcing a lockdown, invoking the Infectious Disease Control Act which allows authorities to give an offender up to one month in prison or a fine or both.
More than 1400 have been taken into custody using the "multi-functional arrest device," according to Deputy Superintendent Pawan Kumar Bhattarai, an expert on the apparatus who himself has arrested dozens of people.
"It's not just easy to use, but very safe both for police and the offenders," Bhattarai, an officer with Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Division who has trained 140 members of his team to use the device, said.
"We may have to run behind the offender if they try to escape, but there is no escaping once the fork catches the person."
Each day, Kathmandu police deploy three or four mobile patrol units of officers equipped with the special tool. The sight of police running behind people with the extendable claw has become common in recent days. While some are released after warning, others are taken to the police station and detained for a few hours.
"We usually release them after a few hours after telling them why the government enforced the lockdown and about the usefulness of the social distancing to prevent Covid-19," said Nepal police spokesperson Umesh Raj Joshi.
Joshi said that device was brought into use to help prevent the risk of infection by allowing police to keep a safe distance from the public.
Thousands of medical staff and police are working on the front line without personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the widespread scarcity of such medical gear.
On Sunday, Nepal bought several tonnes of medical supplies, gear, and test kits from China amid media reports that health staff are refusing to attend to the patients due to the lack of PPEs.
This is not the first time police have used the claw.
Bhattarai said that they have been deployed for other purposes, like pulling dead bodies out of the water.
Australian Associated Press