Over 100 arrested for defying curfew in Punjab

Chandigarh, Mar 24 (PTI) A day after the Punjab government clamped a statewide curfew to combat coronavirus, over 100 violators were arrested in parts of the state for defying the orders even as people largely stayed indoors.

However, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in a video message expressed satisfaction over the response to the curfew and said the state government wanted people to stay indoors to check the spread of the disease.

Singh acknowledged that people were facing difficulties as they require milk, vegetables and other items.

'We have made arrangements. We have told the deputy commissioners to ensure the supply of milk. We are trying that milk and vegetables reach on their doorstep,' said Singh.

The Punjab government had imposed the curfew after finding that people were ignoring the statewide lockdown ordered by it. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered the imposition of a 'full curfew with no relaxations'.

On Tuesday, police registered 232 FIRs and arrested 111 people for the curfew violation, an official said.

Police also had to use mild force against those who violated the restrictions.

Wielding sticks, police personnel at many places forced violators, especially youths, to do sit-ups or even crawl on the road as a punishment for coming out of their homes without any reason.

Some violators, who were on two-wheelers and travelled in cars, were slapped and hit with stick for defying the orders.

Videos of such violators even went viral on social media. They were allowed to go home after they apologised for roaming on streets, an official said.

'People were not ready to listen and coming out of their homes without any reason. Therefore, we use mild force against them for defying the curfew,' a police official in Jalandhar said.

Roads bordering Chandigarh and Haryana were completely sealed.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said while the maximum 38 FIRs for the curfew violation were registered in SAS Nagar (Mohali), 34 were lodged in Amritsar (Rural), and 30 each in Tarn Taran and Sangrur.

He said the maximum 43 people were arrested from Tarn Taran.

Twenty-three persons were arrested in Kapurthala, 15 in Hoshiarpur followed by Bathinda (13), Ferozepur (5), Patiala (5), Gurdaspur (4) and Ludhiana Rural (2), police said, adding that 232 FIRs were registered in the state.

The figures of arrests from other districts stood at Amritsar (14), Jalandhar (10), Batala (6), Gurdaspur (4), Patiala (7), Ropar (4), Fatehgarh Sahib (11), Jalandhar (7), Hoshiarpur (9), Kapurthala (4), Ludhiana (2), SBS Nagar (1), Bathinda (3), Ferozepur (7), Moga (4) and Faridkot (1), they said.

The districts with zero violation of the curfew were Khanna, Pathankot, Barnala, Ludhiana, Fazilka and Mansa, police added.

Two cases for the violation of the quarantine restrictions were also reported from Sri Muktsar Sahib during the day, DGP Gupta said.

The official said 38,160 police personnel in different ranks have been deployed for the strict enforcement of the curfew.

The DGP directed all district police chiefs to ensure that curfew passes are provided on need basis to maintain basic services.

He exhorted the field police staff to deploy a team of about 50-100 policemen to coordinate the supply of food and medicines to people.

He also spoke to the chief secretary and the DGP of Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate the entry of hundreds of goods trucks stranded at the Madhopur barrier in Pathankot.

The state authorities also released a list of district-wise helpline numbers for public, officials said.

In Mohali, the district administration earlier announced a relaxation in the curfew from 4 pm till 6 pm, allowing people to buy groceries and milk.

But the orders were later withdrawn.

Earlier in the day, there were reports of the supply of milk and vegetables getting hit because of restrictions at many places.

At several places, including Chandigarh, wore a deserted look because of the restrictions being in place.

Punjab has reported 29 coronavirus cases till Tuesday evening while Chandigarh has seven confirmed patients. PTI CHS VSD SRY RDK RDK