From wielding the baton to keep people indoors in wake of COVID-19 pandemic to a cop getting his hand severed in an attack by Nihangs in Patiala’s sabzi mandi a few days back, challenges for Punjab police are many. The number of people pushing for curfew passes for mundane things is on the rise making it difficult for the cops on duty. Cops say that it is the “VIP or the very important culture that is making things difficult for the force.”
Sources say that vehicles with curfew passes are being used to ferry beauticians while others are asking their relatives who had gone away to be brought back and the list is endless.
Till yesterday, Punjab government had issued more than 3,30,000 curfew passes and out of this 51 % had been issued online while 49% were issued manually since the curfew was imposed in the state to stop the spread of Coronavirus. The curfew passes meant to be used only in emergency situations are being issued. Sources say that manual distribution of curfew passes by various administrative offices is adding to the problem.
Talking to Republic Media Network, Roopnagar SSP, Sharma said, “Our only focus is that the curfew meant to prevent the spread of Coronavirus only requires that people should not gather at one place and must safely remain indoors. With this, we made online passes compulsory at all police nakas where people have to show the link which opens the letter to show the curfew pass so there is no fudging the pass or changing the date of validity on it. Secondly, we said no to people wanting to bring back relatives or children who were safely living in their rented accommodation or at their relatives’ place.”
Cutting down on the number of passes issued needlessly has helped us keep the situation under control he said. Sources say that irked over such a large number of passes issued, the police department has asked lists of the issuers sent to them to take stock of the situation and are ready to take stern action in issuing passes needlessly.
According to sources days that the Curfew passes come under the domain of the Home secretary. The position is that even the police officials have been given authority to issue passes but the District Magistrate who has put the curfew order or restraint order hand the executive magistrates under his control or mandi officers should issue. 90 percent have been issued by police officers in Mohali, Ludhiana and a couple of other districts.
This is an issue that the senior official of the state flagged in writing and in the extended phase whether a different decision would be taken or not remains to be seen otherwise the whole purpose of it is defeated. Even in the mandi system, senior officers failed to stagger the arrival of massive overcrowding in mandis. Chairman of the market committee needs to take a closer look but this is a Home department matter.
Speaking to Republic Media Network special chief secretary KBS Sidhu said, “The number of passes being issued in each district is being reviewed constantly by the state home department including segregation between police and the magistrates. Home department instructions are that on the need-based and minimal number of passes should be issued.” Instructions are that people should apply online.
As per information, the state is more than 3 lakh passes being issued and maximum passes are issued in those areas which are highly sensitive. Matter of concern is, if more than 3 lakh people are on roads every day using curfew passes especially in high alert areas then the purpose of curfew is not being served.