Stay indoors or face action, govt, police urge residents before Holi festivities
The Delhi government and the city’s police force on Saturday appealed to the people to avoid public gatherings on Holi and celebrate the festival at home in compliance with Covid-19 safety guidelines in place. Any breach of protocols will attract strict action, they warned.
The appeal comes in the backdrop of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on March 23already having banned Holi festivities in the city in view of the rising number of Covid cases.
Talking to reporters, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said both the district administrations and the police have constituted a number of teams to crackdown on those violating the orders of DDMA.
The DDMA, which is headed by lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and has chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as its vice-chairperson, on Tuesday had prohibited celebrations and gatherings in public places in view of the upcoming festival, while asking officials to start random Covid-19 tests for passengers entering the Capital from airports, railway stations and inter-state bus terminals.
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A day before Holi festivities are scheduled to begin in the city, health minister Jain on Saturday reiterated that residents must stay indoors so as to avoid coming in contact with people.
“I would like to appeal to one and all that we must celebrate the festival within our homes. If 50 people meet and out of them even two are Covid positive, then that becomes a risk for everyone involved. Such events must be avoided,” he said.
The minister further said the government was creating a number of teams that will keep a watch against public gatherings on Holi. “District magistrates (DMs) and the police are creating district wise teams. Strict penal action will be taken against violators,” Jain said.
Delhi Police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal said, public places will also include grounds and clubs inside residential apartments.
“No gatherings or celebrations are allowed at such places as well. We are appealing to the people of Delhi to celebrate Holi with their families inside their homes and not come out for any social gathering. Police teams will strictly enforce DDMA guidelines and take strict action against violators,” said Biswal, adding that there is no restriction on selling colours, commonly known as gulal, and other Holi-related items at shops.
DCP (south) Atul Kumar Thakur said several teams in vans and on bikes, along with flying squads, will be patrolling the streets as well as residential neighbourhoods to check for violators.
“Surprise checks will be conducted in residential societies to ensure that residents are not violating guidelines. We will adopt a strict zero tolerance policy against violators,” said DCP Thakur.
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Apart from the local police, the Delhi Traffic Police personnel will also be present on roads to ensure the safety of motorists and keep a check on incidents of drunk driving, and other violations.
As per directions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, in cases of drunken driving, red light jumping, using mobile phone while driving, dangerous driving and speeding, the driver’s licence will be seized and may be suspended for three months, apart from them being slapped with a penalty.
Meenu Choudhary, joint commissioner of police (traffic) said action will also be initiated against the registered owners of vehicles whose vehicles are found to be driven by minors/unauthorised persons, performing stunts, driving without license and so on.
“We appeal to the public to celebrate Holi indoors, wear face masks, maintain social distance and not to spit in public places,” she added.
Delhi traffic police officials said that while alcometer tests for drink driving is yet to be started, fearing Covid-19 infection, visibly drunk drivers will be sent to nearby government hospitals for blood alcohol tests.
Delhi police chief SN Shrivastava has also directed all police personnel to remain extra alert to ensure that public celebrations and gatherings during Holi and Shab-e-Barat are not allowed.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said: “On the day of Holi, March 29, (Monday), Metro services will not be available till 2.30pm on all lines, including Rapid Metro and Airport Express Line. Metro train services will start at 2:30 pm from terminal stations on all lines and will continue normally thereafter.”