Updated: April 15, 2021 2:38:43 am
Hours before the fortnight-long curfew kicked in on Wednesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday asked district collectors to enforce the restrictions strictly and take stern action against those who violate the rules, while top bureaucrats and police officers counselled against “excessive” action.
Thackeray held a meeting with divisional commissioners and district collectors to discuss the implementation of the restrictions imposed by him on Tuesday. “Last time, we prevented the infection. But now, it is more difficult and challenging. So, the district and police administration must ensure that the restrictions are enforced strictly. Don’t lower your guard as we can’t afford to spread the infection further,” he said, adding that there should not be any confusion about the restrictions while implementing it.
State police chief Sanjay Pandey, meanwhile, said that he had instructed the entire force to show “maximum restraint” towards the public while enforcing the curfew that began from 8 pm on Wednesday. Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale reiterated the same while addressing the force and the media through an online video.
Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte said the main objective was to break the infection chain. “There should not be any excessive or inconsistent action,” said Kunte, asking officials to seek guidance from Mantralaya in case of any doubt.
Last year, during the first lockdown, several instances of police highhandedness were reported with lower-rung officers and constables lathicharging Covid-19 norm violators on the streets. Many also ordered instant punishment, making people do sit-ups on roads and video recorded them.
Addressing the media at the state police headquarters in Colaba, DGP Sanjay Pandey said, “I have asked all police unit heads to show maximum restraint while imposing the lockdown. Like last year, this year we are not issuing any passes for public movement or inter-state travel. Also, people will be allowed to move out for essential reasons.”
“We appeal to the people of Maharashtra to respect lockdown rules. We will ensure that maximum restraint is shown by the force while implementing the lockdown.”
A total of 2 lakh police personnel will be on the streets of Maharashtra to enforce the curfew. An additional force of 13,200 home guards and 22 companies of State Reserve Police Force, including three companies for Mumbai and two for Pune, will be deployed as per requirement.
Unlike last year, police personnel above the age of 50 will be on duty except those with comorbidities. “The ones above the age of 50 years and have comorbidities have been advised to stay home,” said Pandey.
The police will team up with local municipal authorities to collect fine for Covid-19 violations like not wearing masks and not following social distancing norms.
Since the pandemic began last year, 36,728 police personnel have been infected by the virus. Of them, 373 have died. At present, while 3,160 personnel are infected, the remaining have recovered and reported back to duty.
Till now, 3.23 lakh FIRs have been registered since the pandemic began with 47,302 people being arrested for violating lockdown rules.
A total of Rs 90.47 crore has been collected as fine.
The chief minister told the collectors that the financial assistance announced by the state for the poor and weaker sections should reach them properly. Planning should be done properly to ensure that there are no complaints, he added.
Thackeray also said that careful steps need to be taken to ensure the proper use of oxygen and remdesivir. “The jumbo facilities should be checked to see if they are safe considering the upcoming monsoon season. Also, fire safety audit of all the hospitals should be completed expeditiously, without any negligence,” he said, adding that special attention should be paid to containment zones.
Stating that the essential and exceptional services are not closed, Thackeray said that there should not be any crowding or violation of curfew norms. If found, such establishments should be closed by the local administration, he added.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale said on Wednesday that he has asked the force to arm itself with updated information regarding Covid-19 care centres and hospitals in their jurisdictions.
“In case a person in your police station’s jurisdiction needs any information regarding care centres, hospitals and bed availability or any emergency phone numbers, you must be able to provide it to them,” Nagrale said in a video addressing the police force.
He also asked local police stations to make WhatsApp groups with people of those housing societies that have either been sealed or fall in containment zones. “In case these people need any help and are unable to move out of their building or area, we should be able to help them,” Nagrale said.
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