Indian typist plagued by fame after harassment

Indian street typist Kishan Kumar (left) with his new typewriter on a street in Lucknow on Tuesday. He was presented with the new machine after his old one was destroyed by a policeman in an image that went viral.
Indian street typist Kishan Kumar (left) with his new typewriter on a street in Lucknow on Tuesday. He was presented with the new machine after his old one was destroyed by a policeman in an image that went viral. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LUCKNOW (India) • An Indian man who became an overnight star when an image of a policeman kicking his typewriter went viral has said he is fed up with all the attention - and just wants to go back to typing letters.

The photograph of the officer harassing Mr Kishan Kumar, who makes a living as a streetside typist in the northern city of Lucknow, provoked an outpouring of sympathy from Indians outraged at his treatment.

The local authorities reacted swiftly, suspending the officer who destroyed his typewriter and promising compensation of 100,000 rupees (S$2,150) in addition to presenting him with a new machine.

But Mr Kumar, who is in his 60s, said he was "fed up" with his newfound celebrity, which had made it impossible for him to work.

"I just can't work with so many people surrounding me. I haven't earned a single penny for the past two days," he told Agence France-Presse outside the Lucknow post office, where he plies his trade.

"What will I feed my family if I do not get to earn... I come here to work, not to give media interviews."

Although typewriters have largely disappeared from many countries, streetside typists remain a common sight in many Indian cities.

They can be seen hunched over often ancient machines, tapping out affidavits, family title deeds and court applications for around 10 rupees per page.

Mr Kumar said that he had received an anonymous threat of violence since the incident last Saturday, while promises of money from well-wishers had failed to materialise.

"I have received a couple of calls from people asking for my bank details... (but) I haven't received any money from anybody," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2015, with the headline 'Indian typist plagued by fame after harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe