Kerala police crackdown on inessential travel on second-day of lockdown

Police checking in progress as per COVID-19 protocol at IMA junction in Palakkad on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: MUSTAFAH KK

The State police actively dissuaded inessential travel on the second day of the lockdown on Sunday.

Law enforcers flagged down vehicles and challenged drivers and passengers to state their reason for travel. The clampdown on journeying will continue till May 16.

The police allowed people with appointments at hospitals and COVID-19 vaccination centres to proceed as usual.

Citizens travelling to attend weddings and funerals of close kin were also permitted.

The police fined and turned back persons they deemed had ventured out for frivolous reasons. Many bridled at such restrictions, resulting in heated arguments with officers.

An official said the police had prepared a template for enforcing the lockdown. Officers strictly adhered to the format. The police had also devised a Standard Operating Procedure to effect arrests and searches and question suspects during the pandemic.

The government has opened separate dorms to treat COVID-19 affected police officers. It had vaccinated the entire force and deployed over 25,000 officers for lockdown duty. The enforcers would operate in shifts. Members of the neighbourhood watch and civil defence aided the police.

Officers also joined elected local body office bearers and health workers to check on COVID-19 patients, patrol markets and ensure hotels and shops selling essentials followed the pandemic protocol.

Also read: Kerala lockdown rules | What’s allowed and what’s not

An official said an estimated 90,000 people had applied online for travel passes. Most requested permission for inter-district travel. Some wanted to return to their workplace in cities after the weekend. In contrast, others cited weddings and house warming as reasons for the trip.

He said the law enforcement granted passes only to a fraction of the applicants. The emphasis was on discouraging inessential travel. The police gave passes to those working for emergency services. They did not challenge domestic workers and manual labourers.

The police allowed wedding parties to proceed unchallenged. They checked the number of persons at marriages held in auditoriums, hotels and homes.

They required hosts to note down the particulars of attendees, including their address and mobile phone number. The police did not allow communal feasting. They asked hosts to distribute food as parcels.

Officers set up checkpoints at inter-district borders.

They insisted that travellers entering Kerala via road furnish COVID-19 negative certificate.

Forest, Excise and police stepped up border patrolling and inspections for movement of contraband, chiefly alcohol and marijuana.

With Karnataka and Tamil Nadu heading to a lockdown, State police held border enforcement meetings with their counterparts in the neighbouring States. The States agreed to allow the smooth passage of freight, ambulances and vehicles carrying patients for hospital appointments.

A core team headed by Chief Secretary V. P. Joy stepped up efforts to source life-saving drugs and equipment from foreign countries following a go-ahead from the Central government. It actively pursued negotiations with vaccine manufacturers for speedy procurement. The Centre had waived duty on COVID-19 related imports.

The department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA) led the push. NORKA officials were in touch with members of the Malayalee diaspora to scout for medicines and critical care equipment to build the State’s pandemic management capacity.

The government paroled 600 prisoners for two weeks to avoid overcrowding in prisons. A panel headed by a High Court judge was examining the parole applications of another 600 convicts. During the first lockdown, Kerala had paroled 1,800 prisoners.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 8:22:36 AM |

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