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Empty streets, shops shut as Bengal follows 15-day stricter curbs

At least 1,250 people held for violating Covid norms in areas under West Bengal Police

Empty streets, shops shut as Bengal follows 15-day stricter curbs
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KOLKATA: With the new set of restrictions imposed by the state government coming into effect from Sunday, streets in different parts of the state wore a deserted look. Only vehicles engaged for delivering emergency services were spotted on the roads.

The restrictions have been imposed with a humane approach giving importance to both 'lives and livelihood'. The scene on Sunday brought back memories of the nationwide lockdown that was imposed during the first wave of Covid pandemic last year.

Meanwhile, police took strict action against violators of the safety protocols and the new restrictions. As many as 1,250 people were arrested for violating Covid norms in the areas under the jurisdiction of the West Bengal Police, while more than 158 prosecutions were made for not wearing masks and 23 preventive arrests in Kolkata, besides the seizure of 59 vehicles.

Police were out on the streets since morning to check violations. Security barricades were set up at strategic locations to check the unnecessary movement of vehicles apart from those involved in providing essential services.

The police across the state were found visiting local markets right at 10 am to ensure all shops are closed within the stipulated time.

Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay had announced the restrictions in which all government and private offices along with educational institutions would remain closed till 6 pm on May 30.

This comes when 19,117 people got infected with the disease and 147 fatalities were logged in the past 24 hours. At the same time, 19,113 Covid patients were discharged from the hospital after getting cured.

Without facing any inconvenience, people purchased daily essentials, food items and weekly ration from the local markets within the permitted business hours. Acting with a humane approach, police ensured that all local markets were shut within the scheduled time.

However, a few stray incidents of some violating the restrictions were reported. In West Midnapore's Dantan, four traders were arrested for keeping garment shops open. Action was also taken against the owner of a sweetmeat shop for opening his shop before the scheduled time.

The sweetmeat shops are allowed to stay open from 10 am to 5 pm. When strict instruction was given to keep gyms and sports complexes to remain closed, two persons were detained for keeping their gym open at Serampore in Hooghly. Some shopkeepers were made to do squats at Barabazar in Purulia for flouting the norms.

The police continued patrolling in different areas on motorbikes to check unnecessary gatherings and loitering by a section of people even inside narrow lanes and bylanes. At Shantipur in Nadia, two youths jumped into river Bhagirathi to evade arrest on finding that the policemen were approaching them as they were busy gossiping by the side of the river bank.

Train and Metro services remained completely suspended. Only a handful of flights landed and took off from Kolkata on Sunday. However, representatives of bank employees wrote to the Chief Secretary urging him to take steps so that they can travel in special local trains.

Police pickets have been posted at the entry and exit points of every district. All vehicles were checked at the naka points and strict action was taken if anyone was found moving out without any valid reason. Policemen were found checking every vehicle on Howrah Bridge and only allowed to pass against the production of a valid pass.

Welcoming the move of the state government, Sumita Dey, a resident of Shibpur in Howrah who works in a private company, said: "It should be our social responsibility to follow the restrictions and to stay indoors as much as possible." A senior police officer said strict vigilance would continue for all the next 15 days and one would be prosecuted under Disaster Management Act and Indian Penal Code, if found violating the restrictions.

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