India 65-year old gets typewriter as police abuse goes viral

Krishna Kumar at the spot where he types documents for people by the central post office in Lucknow
Image caption Krishna Kumar said he found the new typewriter unfamiliar

The government in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has presented a new typewriter to a 65-year-old man whose old one was destroyed by a policeman in the city of Lucknow.

The images of the policeman kicking and smashing the typewriter that Krishna Kumar used to earn his livelihood went viral and generated outrage across the country. Mr Kumar sits on the road outside the city's main post office and types up applications, letters and affidavits. He spoke to BBC Hindi's Atul Chandra.

It has been three days since I received my brand new typewriter but I have only managed to earn some money with it today - when I typed up a one-page letter and was paid 20 rupees (30 cents; 19 pence).

I am very grateful to the press for taking up my cause but you tell me, who will come and ask me to type anything for them when I am surrounded by journalists?

Truth be told, I miss my old typewriter. I bought it about 11 years ago for 4,000 rupees and the keyboard was so familiar to me, it was almost like an extension of my hands.

This new typewriter that has been gifted to me is still unfamiliar. I find the keyboard different so it will take some time before I get used to it. The keys are quite hard but I'm sure it will be fine once I have oiled the machine properly.

This machine is also much heavier than my old one but since I leave it behind with a shopkeeper friend after I am done working for the day, the added weight is really not an issue.

'Couldn't believe my eyes'

I suppose it was God's will what happened. That the sub-inspector that day decided to pick on me and my typewriter, and not the man sitting next to me.

He picked up my typewriter and dashed it on the ground without any provocation. When I pleaded with him that it was my only source of income, he crushed it with his shoes so that it could not even be repaired.

Image caption Mr Kumar has been working as a Hindi-language typist for more than 35 years

I have been sitting at this spot for 35 years now. Many times in the past, policemen or civic officials have asked me to move because someone important was visiting the area or for some other reason and I have always obeyed. That day no VIP was visiting, and it was the first time a policeman had been so aggressive with me.

I was not aware that someone had photographed the sub-inspector vandalising my typewriter. I had no idea that anyone knew what happened that day. I didn't even know that there was something called social media. Even my son is not familiar with it.

So when senior administration and police officials, accompanied by some journalists, came to my house on Saturday with two typewriters, I could not believe my eyes.

It was only then that I learnt that thanks to the photographs on social media, people had come to know about what had happened.

Image copyright Twitter

I accepted the Hindi typewriter but returned the one with the English keyboard as it was of no use to me. When I got it, my first thought was that I wouldn't be without work and that my son would not have to spend money to buy me a new typewriter.

It was typing that helped me put my son through school and helped him start a small grocery store from our house. It also allowed me to contribute to the building of our house.

Although I received a call threatening me after the incident, I am not afraid to go back to work because the Lucknow district magistrate and the superintendent of police have both assured me that they will do their best to ensure my safety. My wife and son also fully support my desire to return to work. I only earn about 100 rupees a day, but that is my only source of income.

Despite the new typewriter and the support I have received, my experience with the policeman has hurt me. I felt humiliated. I don't feel like sitting here anymore and I'm not sure how long I will keep returning to this spot now.

As for the sub-inspector, I don't want to lodge an official complaint against him. Like me, he too has a family. Why should they suffer because of his actions? He has already been suspended. Maybe now he will think twice before he misbehaves with poor people again.

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