A month on, 4,384 Chandigarh residents challaned for not wearing masks
Either out of reluctance or a casual approach, the residents of Chandigarh despite a hike in the number of Covid-19 positive cases are still moving around without masks on.
Evidently, since June 23 the police have challaned 4,384 residents for moving in the public without masks and collected a fine of ₹22.22 lakh. Besides, 278 FIRs were registered in different police stations of the city against 318 persons for the same offence. All of them were later released on bail.
However, cases are not registered against all who are caught. “If a person fails to pay a fine on the spot or if a person is caught after 10pm, an FIR is registered,” said a police officer. The violators are then arrested and released on bail later. “The National Disaster Act authorises enforcement agencies to register FIRs if a person is not able to pay the fine on the spot under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code,” added the official.
Meanwhile, residents continue to move about in markets, parks and other public places without the protective gear, which is mandatory. The violation elicits ₹500 in fine, which must be paid on the spot.
The most number of challans, 526, were issued by the Sector 26 police station, near the Bapu Dham Colony—a Covid hotspot. The Sector 3 police station, near Sukhna lake, has issued 499 challans.
“Check the people moving around at the lake without masks and they will say masks come in the way of fresh air. Some even say that while exercising, their masks fell off,” said a police official posted at the lake. The IT Park police station has registered a maximum number of 64 FIRs against 66 people.
“We are using all resources to enforce the wearing of masks. Even traffic policemen are issuing challans,” said Chandigarh Police public relations officer, DSP Charanjit Singh.
INCREASE FINE AMOUNT: MARKET BODIES
The market associations of the city have asked their members not to allow anyone without a mask inside the markets, but only politely.
“I have already told my staff not to sell anything to a mask-less customer. There is no need to argue, a polite refusal is enough,” said Tarsem Kumar, a wholesale karyana store owner in Sector 26.
“The challans should be linked to Aadhaar cards to maintain a record and double the fine if anyone is caught again. Only then will the people learn,” he added.
Balwinder Singh, president of the Sector 46 market welfare association, said, “It is mostly the youngsters who move without masks. And when caught, they offer only excuses.”
Diwakar Sahoonja, president of the Sector 11 market welfare association, said “Just like sanitizers at entrance, shopkeepers should also keep masks and give them free to people coming to the market without one.”
DON’T HESITATE TO CHECK PEOPLE WITHOUT MASKS: RWA
Amarjeet Maken, former president of the Sector 47 RWA, said, “We do not allow anyone to enter our locality without a mask.”
Colonel Kulwinder Singh, president of Sector 10 RWA, said, “People are lax and reluctant and will give you lame excuses for not wearing masks. If anyone is caught not wearing one, police should take them to the police station and let them pay fine there. Strict enforcement is the only way.”
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