Ten strangers who broke a coronavirus lock in an Indian city made famous by the Beatles, were forced to repent by writing “I’m so sorry” – 500 times, officials said Sunday.
The nationwide lockdown was imposed in late March, with residents allowed to leave their homes only for essential services such as groceries and medicine.
Travelers – from Israel, Mexico, Australia and Austria – were caught walking around Rishikesh, where the Beatles sought spirituality in an Ashram in 1968.
Local police officer Vinod Sharma said that they each had to write “I did not follow the lock rules so I am very sorry” 500 times.
More than 700 foreign tourists from the United States, Australia, Mexico and Israel staying in the region have flouted the lockdown rules, said Sharma, adding that the unusual punishment had been inflicted to teach them a lesson.
Police said they would run hotels in the area to allow foreign guests to exit only if accompanied by local helpers.
Establishments that did not comply with the order could be subject to legal action, said Sharma.
Police have developed unusual methods to encourage people to stay home to stop the spread of the deadly disease, including wearing coronavirus helmets.
But agents from certain states have also been seen in social media videos, beating drivers on the roads and enticing people to go out during the lockout to do squats and leapfrogs as punishment.
Police said on Sunday that they had arrested nine people who violated the lock after an officer’s hand was cut in the Patiala district of northern Punjab.
The group was stopped in a vehicle at a checkpoint and – refusing to turn around as ordered – hit the accelerator and hit steel barricades, officials said.
During the confrontation, one of the group members drew out a sword, cutting the hand of a police officer. Six other police officers were injured in the attack, police said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to extend a national lockdown that was originally scheduled to end on Tuesday for another two weeks.
Some states have already extended the restrictions.
India had recorded more than 8,300 cases of coronavirus and 273 deaths from the disease on Sunday.