Report: Police in Rural India Force Unvaccinated to Wear Skull and Crossbones Signs

India Vaccine Skull and Crossbones. Screenshot via YouTube.
Screenshot via YouTube

Police in rural central India forced local residents who were not vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus to wear placards bearing a skull and crossbones — a universal symbol of danger — this week, Reuters reported Thursday.

Police officers in the Niwari district of Madhya Pradesh state decided to enforce the sign-wearing as a way to encourage local villagers to receive a Chinese coronavirus vaccination. Officers learned which villagers were not vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus and assigned them skull and crossbones signs to wear on their person. The signs included additional text reading, “Do not come near me, I am not vaccinated. Please stay away from me.”

Video footage from Niwari district now viral online shows some people wearing the large skull and crossbones signs across their chests.

“Watching the low vaccination rate in our district we decided to honor the people who got vaccinated, but then we also found a large number of people who were not vaccinated,” Santosh Patel, a sub-divisional police officer assigned to the Prithvipur block of Niwari district, told Reuters on June 10. “So to teach them a lesson and encourage them to get vaccinated, we administrated an oath to get them inoculated as soon as possible.”

The police officers rewarded vaccinated villagers with signs decorated in the colors of the Indian national flag that read, “I am a nationalist.”

“The policy has provoked anger online, with social media users calling it an ‘insult’ and ‘stigmatizing,'” according to Reuters.

“Around 14 percent of residents in Madhya Pradesh have had one inoculation against coronavirus, with vaccination rates in rural areas like Niwari among the lowest anywhere in the country,” the news agency noted on June 10.

Despite its designation as the world’s largest vaccine maker, India has suffered from severe shortages of raw drug materials in recent months that have hampered its Chinese coronavirus vaccine production. New Delhi boasted about exporting tens of millions of domestically produced coronavirus vaccines to foreign nations in mid-April. The vaccine exports sparked criticism within India, where reports were emerging at the time of Indian citizens being turned away from coronavirus vaccine appointments due to supply shortages. India has suffered from a major resurgence of its Chinese coronavirus caseload since early April.

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