Days after Bengal’s ‘no night curfew’ declaration, MHA asks states to strictly implement guidelines
MHA’s letter doesn’t name any particular state, however, it comes three days after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banreeje, while issuing the guidelines for the state, had ruled out the enforcement of the night curfew.Updated: May 21, 2020 20:57 IST
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Thursday again nudged the states to strictly follow lockdown guidelines, particularly the night curfew - from 7 pm to 7 am – as it is mandated to make sure people observe social distancing to prevent the coronavirus disease from spreading.
In his letter to the states, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla said the night curfew that prohibits all non-essential activities and movement between 7pm and 7am across the country is an “important element” of the MHA guidelines, which were issued on Sunday for the fourth phase of lockdown, extended till May 31.
However, Bhalla said, “it has been brought to the notice of MHA, through media reports and other sources, that there are violations at various places, in the implementation of guidelines”. He asked local authorities to issue orders in the entirety of their jurisdiction for imposition of the night curfew.
Bhalla’s letter doesn’t name any particular state, however, it comes three days after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banreeje, while issuing the guidelines for the state, had ruled out the enforcement of the night curfew.
“We won’t officially declare night curfew because people are already under a lot of stress. We do not want to increase their suffering. But we will request people not to venture out of their homes between 7 pm and 7 am or else police will take action,” Banerjee had said on Monday. She had said that the word ‘curfew’ had bad connotations and people should not feel suffocated.
An MHA official, who did not wish to be named, said the lockdown guidelines were issued after consulting all the states. “If they don’t follow these, then it is a clear violation and the states doing so are putting their people at risk,” the officer said.
On Monday, the ministry had reminded all states that they cannot dilute the lockdown guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act.
Bhalla, on Thursday, also asked the states to properly delineate the containment zones and take action if the violations are reported in any of the zones – red, orange or green.
The national directives, issued along with the guidelines, should also be followed throughout the country, he said. These include – wearing masks, social distancing at work, transport and public places and maintaining hygiene and sanitation etc as they are important to contain the spread of Covid-19 and protecting individuals and community, the letter adds.
“I would request all chief secretaries and administrators of union territories to remain vigilant in the fight against Covid-19 and ensure all measures that have either been mandated by MHA, or laid down by the states, are scrupulously adhered to at all levels,” Bhalla added.