Coronavirus crisis: On day 1 of India's lockdown, hundreds booked
In a clear sign that the government will not go easy on those violating the lockdown rules, authorities on Monday booked hundreds for stepping out of their homes, unnecessarily, and issued warnings of a jail term to them. Yesterday, India saw its first day of lockdown as several restrictions about the public movement were announced on Sunday. The Centre asked states to ensure the lockdown is enforced properly.
India took a leaf from booklets of other countries, like China. Italy and Spain, and imposed restrictions, hoping that it will contain the spread of COVID-19. The deadly coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets, and with no vaccine/cure available, the only way to deal with it is social distancing. As a dry run, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Indians to observe Janata curfew on Sunday.
Fully aware that a few hours of lockdown won't be enough, state authorities imposed more curbs, urging people to stay indoors and underlining that only essential services will be allowed to remain operational. Despite this, people were spotted on roads, forcing cops to book them. In the states of Haryana and Rajasthan, police confiscated vehicles of those found flouting the rules.
Separately, in states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, police circulated pictures of violators with the message, "I am the enemy of society. I won't stay indoors". In Punjab's Khanna, those caught venturing out were asked to do sit-ups. When police stopped even the commercial vehicles, some confusion took over locals. By evening, Captain Amarinder Singh announced a curfew in the state.
The Mumbai police reportedly booked 31 people for violating the lockdown. In Kalyan's Dombivli area, a group of youngsters, who thought it was fine to go on a bike-ride, were asked to do sit-ups. Pranaya Ashok, the spokesperson of Mumbai police, said there was little awareness and they were finding it difficult to enforce the lockdown. Following Punjab, CM Uddhav Thackeray imposed curfew in Maharashtra.
In Uttar Pradesh, over 200 cases were lodged against 1,000 people across 16 districts for violating the rules. Authorities in Prayagraj put notices outside homes of those who returned from abroad as a precautionary measure. However, in Bihar, hundreds of migrant laborers remained stranded in Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, and Katihar as trains and local transport were suspended. They had an altercation with officials.
One laborer said he was hungry and didn't have money. On Monday, the Railway Board said all station masters will be told to relax the restrictions related to retiring rooms to help those who are stranded. In a bid to point towards the seriousness of the situation, the Railways put out a tweet saying that services aren't suspended even during a war.
Meanwhile, in Rajasthan's Jaipur, four were arrested for defying the rules and 111 vehicles were seized. "They were roaming in the city without any reason and refused to go back home," a senior official said about the arrests. To note, 30 states and UTs are in complete lockdown as the number of coronavirus positive cases climbed to 492 across India. Nine have died.
On a related note, Delhi Police cleared the Shaheen Bagh protest site this morning, 101 days after the agitation against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) started. Several protesters, including women, have been detained. "They were not clearing the protest site despite repeated persuasion," an official said about the development. Delhi is under complete lockdown, with borders sealed and public transport being suspended.