April 14, 2020 10:12:46 pm
PUNE City is leading in Maharashtra with regards to the number of lockdown violation offences registered in the state. While the total number of offences registered in the entire state is around 42,000, Pune city alone accounted for over 5,200 offences.
To arrest the spread of COVID-19, a complete lockdown was ordered by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on March 23, a day prior to a nationwide lockdown was imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Following Thackeray’s announcement, the 44 police jurisdictions across the state had issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Since then, offences were being registered against people found in violation of the lockdown. In areas declared as hotspots of the coronavirus spread, more stringent restrictions, including curfew, have been imposed in pockets in Mumbai, Thane, Pune city, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune rural. The Pimpri-Chinchwad police has also issued prohibitory orders on the usage of social media in its jurisdiction. Over the last one week, police have also made wearing of masks compulsory in public places.
Till the night of April 13, a total of 5,278 offences of lockdown violations have been registered in Pune City Police jurisdiction, while Pune Rural and Pimpri-Chinchwad jurisdictions have seen 2,566 and 3,498 offences, respectively. Thus the total number of cases registered in Pune district has reached 11,342.
Meanwhile, the number of offences in the three jurisdictions in Mumbai stands at 4,686, with Mumbai City registering 3,121 offences, Navi Mumbai 423 and Thane 1,142. Mumbai and Pune have seen the highest prevalence of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The offences are being registered under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. The section pertains to ‘disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant’ and attracts a fine and jail term, which can extend up to six months. In the first conviction for lockdown violation on April 1, a court in Baramati had sentenced three persons to three days of imprisonment after they were caught commuting on the road without a valid reason or police permit. Till night of April 13, as many 42,429 offences have been registered across the state and 8,562 persons have been arrested till date.
Police are also confiscating vehicles used in lockdown violations. Till date, 27,350 vehicles have been seized by the police in Maharashtra.
Officials said the high number of cases registered in Pune city does suggest that stern action is being taken against violators, but it is also a cause of concern as people are still coming out without any valid reasons. Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ashok Morale said, “The purpose of filing cases is to make sure that people stay indoors. We want citizens to respect the lockdown and follow all safety norms and that is why stringent action is being taken. This has resulted in large number of offences being registered. And its effects are visible. But these actions will continue in coming days.”
During the three-week lockdown, there have been 76 cases of attacks on police personnel across the state, in which 162 persons have been arrested. In Pune district, a total of six offences of attacks on police have been registered across three jurisdiction and 11 persons have been arrested.
Joint Commission of Police Ravindra Shisve said, “The fact that we had to register more than 5,200 offences is certainly not something to be proud of. We appeal to people to follow all the lockdown directions in entirety so that we will lead the state in compliance and not in violation. We also want to stress that if one is convicted in these offences, the record of that individual will be tarnished forever.”
Rise in hate messages over COVID-19
State police officials have observed that there has been a rise in the cases of hate messages on the social media and messenger platforms. Till date, around 200 offences have been registered for hate speech, fake news and rumours pertaining to various issues about the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is a rising trend in hate speech cases in the last seven days. Out of total registered cases about coronavirus-related social media posts, 104 are about hate speeches while the remaining are about spreading fake news, rumours and misinformation. WhatsApp, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter are mainly being used for spreading these messages. Take down notices are being issued to all concerned platforms,” said Balsing Rajput, Superintendent of Police, Maharashtra Cyber, the cyber crime wing of the Maharashtra Police.
“Maharashtra Cyber, with a team 25 people, is keeping an eye on social media posts… We appeal to the public not to forward and create fake and hate messages. We have already issued detailed advisories for use of social media and WhatsApp, in the backdrop of the pandemic,” Rajput said.
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