455 FIRs, 164 arrests as cops fan out on Day 1 of weekend curfew
At least 92 cases over violations were registered till Saturday morning. The cases were mostly against people who were caught “wilfully disobeying” the curfew orders on flimsy excuses.
More than 30,000 security personnel were deployed on the streets of Delhi and nearly 400 police pickets set up across the capital to enforce the weekend curfew that came into effect at 10pm Friday to curb the spread of Covid-19. Over 455 FIRs were registered for violations till Saturday 8pm, even as chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said residents of Delhi were mostly abiding by the curbs.
At least 92 cases over violations were registered till Saturday morning. The cases were mostly against people who were caught “wilfully disobeying” the curfew orders on flimsy excuses such as “out to buy liquor”, “to withdraw money from ATM”, “returning home from Noida/Ghaziabad”, among others, police said. In addition, 283 people were prosecuted for not wearing masks or not maintaining social distancing while 1,950 preventive actions were taken till Saturday morning.
Between 8am and 8pm Saturday, the police registered a further 363 FIRs, arrested 164 people and issued 2,432 fines.
The Delhi government also made elaborate arrangements that included issuing e-passes, operating at least 5,600 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, and deploying district administration staffers and civil defence volunteers to assist the police.
Kejriwal also hinted at stricter curbs or a continuance of the weekend curfew if the Covid-19 situation worsens in the city.
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“We will closely monitor the situation over the next few days. We will take whatever steps are necessary for the safety of people. I hope the public will cooperate with us,” he said during a press briefing on Saturday.
Government officials said the compliance on the ground was high with almost all markets, including Khan Market, Sarojini Nagar, Connaught Place and Kamla Nagar, remaining shut.
The city police also provided humanitarian aid such as doorstep delivery of life-saving medicines and food to Covid patients in home isolation, and ferrying senior citizens from their homes to vaccination centres and back. The Delhi Police’s 24x7 Covid helpline 011-23469900, launched on Friday night, and its Twitter handle were busy addressing distress calls and messages as well as queries regarding e-passes and movement restrictions. More than 1,500 calls were received on the helpline till Saturday evening.
Police chief SN Shrivastava was also spotted on the streets with other senior officers. Nearly 350 police personnel have also tested Covid-19 positive in the past 10 days. “Personnel were told to be firm and polite while checking people and vehicles. Strict action is to be taken against those found wilfully disobeying the weekend curfew,” he said.
At least 5,600 DTC and cluster buses operated on Saturday during the curfew even as transport officials said the number of passengers were low. “We have put up stickers of the exempted category of passengers on our buses. Only those with a valid ID were allowed on board,” said a senior official of the DIMTS, the company that runs cluster buses in the city.
District administrations also deployed teams from the DM’s office to assist the police. “Also, the district control room is working round-the-clock to monitor the curfew and to issue e-passes,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
The resident welfare associations (RWAs) in the city also assisted the government agencies in enforcing the restrictions.
Amarjeet Singh, president of Lajpat Nagar-3 RWA, said only one of 15 gates in their locality remained open on Saturday. “Only two vegetable vendors were allowed in. We did not allow drivers and helps. All shops were closed except those selling essential items. We will strictly follow the weekend curfew,” he said.