A video went viral on Facebook on Wednesday (22nd July, 2020), showing a lady employee of United Bank of India, Siilchar, sitting at a cash counter. The video shows a man, who was simultaneously filming it, questioning the employee, about reasons for not wearing a mask. The lady employee cross questions him, “Who are you to ask me this question”, on which the man replies back saying, “Do you even know what is going on outside?” Consequently, the lady employee calls for help and the video ends.
Within a few hours, after the video went viral, a press statement was issued by the Office of the Deputy Director, Information and Public Relations which is quoted as, “Lead District Manager, Cachar has asked the Branch Manager of Punjab National Bank, Hospital Road Branch, Silchar to take action against an employee of its branch for violation of COVID-19 protocols.”
Cachar Chronicles approaches Malavika, the daughter of that lady employee to know her side of the arguements. Malavika informs that there are CCTV footages, which clearly show that her mother was not violating COVID-19 protocols. She explains that her mother (the lady employee) had arrived at the bank in the morning, at the scheduled time. She had been wearing the mask since then, till 02:15 pm. At 02:15 pm, the lady employee took off her mask and gloves and went towards canteen to take her lunch. She came back at 02:30 pm. By then, three customers were already waiting at the cash counter and were demanding the completion of their respective works. The lady employee decided to quickly get their work done as they were waiting for a long time, and then put on her mask and gloves. Malavika further explains that her mother was behind Glasses and atleast a distance of 7-8 feet was there between the customers and her mother (the lady employee). By that time, a person started shouting at somebody over his phone and the lady employee was compelled to ask him to stop doing the same as it was disturbing his fellow customers and other bank employees. The person reacted back by charging her about her mask and Malavika reports that her mother ignores it. This leads to the man activating his smartphone camera and he went on to take footages of the bank employee, and thus the 25 seconds long video gets uploaded on Facebook and it goes viral on the same platform. Malavika raised the question, “Is it at all justified to judge a person only on the basis of a 25 seconds long video, ignoring the series of incident that had lead to the situation?”
Many questions have arised as a result of this incident. How can a person record a footage inside the restricted area of a bank? Without the permission of the lady employee, taking her video footage is an act of immodesty to the woman and a case of defamation against her; having said that, is the video, shot by the man, justified? Is it at all possible to wear a mask for a long period of about 8 hours? Long period of wearing masks may sometimes lead to suffocation; having said that, shouldn’t the administration draw a line to explain in details, when and where to put off a mask, if a person needs to? Malavika reports that her mother is an asthma patient, in that case, wearing masks for a long time without ever putting it off, may lead her to suffocation, how does the administration explain this and how should it be addressed. It has been frequently seen that the people working under essential services, often put off their masks in public places. Considering the situation, the society is in, putting off masks without following a systematic guideline may lead to a serious nuisance. Cachar Chronicles urges the administration to issue a detailed and systematic guideline on safely putting off masks at intervals, when in public places.