MUMBAI: A day after the ‘Janata curfew’, many motorists and pedestrians threw caution to the wind and were out and about on Monday, despite orders issued under Section 144 of CrPC prohibiting assembly of four or more people. Massive checks carried out by the police found several non-essential shops open, people out on the streets as well as Mumbai-Pune Expressway —- some for a walk or drive, others heading to their native places.
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The police took whatever steps it deemed necessary to send them home and break up groups. In Mumbai, 31 people, many non-essential shop-keepers and others who were violating the 144 rule, were booked for violation of section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. In Kalyan, police made youths do situps after seeing them roaming without reason. Cops also filed 30 cases for keeping shops open. DCP Vivek Pansare said, “FIRs were filed to deter violation of government orders to prevent coronavirus.”
At Mulund check naka, police nakabandis ended up causing massive congestion and the cops had to eventually stop. But not before they heard some gems from motorists. “A motorist said he was rushing to conduct the funeral of his father who had just passed away. He waved a death certificate in our face. Curious, we examined the certificate and found that it was dated March 16. When we confronted him about the date, he had no answer. He later said he was out for a drive as he had been cooped up at home for too long,” said an officer.
At Dahisar check naka, hordes of motorists tried to enter Mumbai and the police had to resort to making public announcements to stop them. “We had to announce that Section 144 was in place,” said additional commissioner, north region, Dilip Sawant. Police nakabandis were in place on SV Road and Linking Road in the western suburbs.
“Some of the motorists checked at toll nakas claimed they were headed to the airport or to their workplace despite the government having asked corporate offices to shut. A family of five at Mulund toll naka said they were headed from Turbhe to the western suburbs to a relative’s place for unwinding,” said a police officer.
Despite the Section 144 order, issued late on Sunday, regular traffic flow was observed at Prabhadevi, Pali Market, Sion, Airoli toll plaza, at Sion-Panvel Highway near Chembur etc. Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Pranay Ashok said: “Legal action was not initiated but they were warned.”
The crackdown had started from Sunday itself, with police in Kalamboli and Panvel filing 3 FIRs and detaining 37 persons for contravening the prohibition order under the epidemic act as well as the Maharashtra Covid-19 Rules, 2020. Most of the FIRs were against religious trust office bearers for calling citizens to places of worship and many heeding the call.
The Mira-Bhayander civic body filed cases against 12 persons for protesting against a quarantine facility in Bhayander.
(With inputs from Pradeep Gupta, Sandhya Nair)
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