Nine days after the German Bakery blast, the Pune police on Monday issued a diktat banning people from wearing scarves to cover their faces.
The police hope the order, which comes into effect from Tuesday, will help them catch the perpetrators of the blast.
Pune police commissioner Satyapal Singh said: “The police cannot identify the person [who covers his or her face with a scarf]. The person can be a terrorist.”
In Pune, it’s a common sight to see bikers and pedestrians, especially students, with covered faces – something they do to protect themselves from the heat and dust.
The Pune police issued the circular under the Bombay Police Act (BPA) on Monday. “We have intimated people through the media. Next, we will warn them and if they insist on using scarves, we will fine them. Our action will start from Tuesday,” Manoj Patil, deputy commissioner of police (traffic), said.
Teams will be deployed to enforce the rule, and checking will start with Koregaon Park.
The police have yet to come up with a plan to recognise possible terrorists who may choose to hide their faces behind helmets, which were made compulsory in 2004 by a court order, and which the police have failed to implement.
Puneites are annoyed with the decree.
“I haven’t heard that terrorists come on two-wheelers with their faces covered with a scarf, plant a bomb and escape,” said 24-year-old Dipti Warudkar, a commerce student from Kothrud. “To prevent attacks they should reduce the number of security personnel for politicians and deploy them on the streets.”
Legal experts said the diktat is absurd. “This is ridiculous,” said Ashok Mundargi, a senior counsel practising at Bombay High Court. “You can’t pass such an order even in the name of security.”
This is Singh’s second attempt at getting Puneites to uncover their faces. He had tried to impose the ban two years ago, but shelved the idea after widespread protests.
He had implemented the ban in Nagpur where he was posted earlier.