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After COVID-19 death: Ludhiana police tightens clampdown as misuse of movement passes leads to chaos

In blatant violation of curfew, people were seen crowding in the city's wholesale Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) without any restriction or checking. Police said many were misusing curfew passes issued in the name of emergency and essential services.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: April 1, 2020 12:59:27 am
Curfew violation- offenders put in one of the open temporary jail at Guru Nanak Dev Stadium in Ludhiana Tuesday. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

A DAY after a woman from Amarpura Basti of Ludhiana died at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Patiala, after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Ludhiana police and administration on Tuesday tightened measures across the city where people had started moving around on the roads despite the ongoing curfew.

In blatant violation of curfew, people were seen crowding in the city’s wholesale Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) without any restriction or checking. Police said many were misusing curfew passes issued in the name of emergency and essential services.

On Tuesday, nearly a hundred curfew violators were lodged in four ‘open jails’ created to punish the violators.

Ludhiana Police Commissioner Rakesh Agrawal said, “We rounded up at least a hundred persons who were found roaming on roads unnecessarily. They gave vague excuses. Some were also misusing curfew passes issued to them for ‘essential or emergency services’. For instance, a person given pass for opening his fuel filling station was roaming on his vehicle. Similarly, a person issued a pass for transporting langar food was found roaming idle. Some even misused passes issued for emergency medical services. Today was the first day to round up people and put them in open jails so they were released after 2-5 hours after taking a surety bond from them. From tomorrow, we can even keep them in open jails for 24 hours or 14 days at maximum.”

Inspector Jarnail Singh, SHO, division number 8 police station, said, “We put 52 curfew violators in an open jail at Guru Nanak Stadium. People give vague reasons for coming out and most are just out to see that how deserted roads look when city in under curfew…We released them after five hours with a warning that if they are caught again, an FIR will be registered against them.”

Sources said as many as 6,000 curfew movement passes which were issued earlier won’t be renewed and did not fall in essential services category. Even councillors had the power to issue ‘curfew movement passes’ and thousands were issued unnecessarily, they added.

Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Pradeep Aggarwal said, “All curfew passes for essential services issued by our government departments remain valid till April 14 but all movement passes including that for langar or other works are now invalid. They were valid till March 31 but now whomsoever wants a pass can apply online on https://epasscovid19.pais.net.in/ and get it after specifying the reason. Passes will not be issued manually now.”

Ludhiana CP Rakesh Agrawal said, “People preparing langar will get passes only if they are serving food for at least 1,000 people. Earlier we also allowed movement of people who were serving less than 1,000 people. But now curfew will be imposed very strictly. Entire area around Amarpura Basti will remain sealed till health department is doing its work to check all suspects. ATMs will open only if banks will mark circles for people to stand and maintain safe social distance. At wholesale Sabzi Mandi also, unnecessary people will be allowed at any cost. All movement passes issued to people who gave miscellaneous reasons are no more valid and they won’t be allowed to roam around.”

An official statement from administration said, “All curfew movement passes issued to residents except for emergency/essential services, stand cancelled from April 1.”

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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