Curfew passes see misuse in Punjab as man tests positive for COVID-19 after illegally selling liquor

Sources said that as such a large number of passes have been issued, the police department has now reportedly demanded the lists of the people who have been issued these passes.

Published: 21st April 2020 12:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 12:16 PM   |  A+A-

Jalandhar Health workers use thermal screening devices on vendors at a wholesale vegetable market during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus in Jalandhar Monday April 20 2020. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: A person, affiliated to a political party, residing in Patiala was given a curfew pass by the district administration on the pretext of serving langar (community kitchen), but he allegedly sold books and also liquor illegally and is now corona positive.

More than 3.25 lakh curfew passes issued by the Punjab government till date since the curfew was imposed in the state about a month back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A few cases have come to light pertaining to the misuse of these passes, which are generally issued for a medical emergency and essential services, for other purposes. Also in a few other instances, fake passes have also come to light of the authorities and hence, state police is finding it difficult to deal with these 'VIPs'.

Sources said that a person affiliated to a political party residing in Patiala was given a curfew pass by the district administration on the pretext of serving langar (community kitchen) which he apparently did to the poor and needy in the royal city.

But under this 'cover', he took along two of his close associates and they sold books as one of them had a book shop and liquor not only in Patiala but also in Rajpura and Banur towns of the district.  The trio has now been detected positive for coronavirus and in his contact tracing, fifteen people in Patiala came positive. However, the police have not registered a case on him due to his political clout.

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In another case, a group of Jammu and Kashmir residents, allegedly on a fake curfew pass used by the office of Mohali Deputy Commissioner reached the state border at Lakhanpur in Pathankot district on the way to Anantnag in J&K from Mohali.

After the Pathankot Deputy Commissioner informed his Mohali counterpart and an initial investigation conducted, it came to light a pass was issued for a medical emergency for someone else to travel to Nangal in adjoining Ropar district from Mohali but its photocopy was taken and the photo was changed, more names were added and the destination was changed to Lakhanpur in the forged copy.

Also, these people hired a state roadways bus by using this fake pass and reached the border at Jammu & Kashmir but were caught there. Now the authorities have decided to register a case on them, said sources.

A few days ago, two men went to Delhi on a two-wheeler from Bathinda crossing two states including Haryana and got heroin. Though they used a fake curfew pass and nobody stopped them on the way,  they were arrested by the special task force on drugs (STF) and 110 grams of heroin recovered and a case registered.

However, the police are yet to recover the fake curfew pass from them and have started a probe as to how did they procure the fake pass.

Sources said that the state government has approximately issued around 3.25 lakh curfew passes from March 23 onwards since the curfew was imposed in the whole state. Of these about 50 per cent issued manually and rest online.

The state police, the deputy commissioners of districts, sub-divisional officers, tehsildars, district food and supply officers and other designated officers have authority to issue these passes which are both one time passes for a limited period and also long-duration passes.

The manual distribution of curfew passes by various officers is also adding to the problem. As these passes are meant to be used only in emergency situations, maximum passes were issued in those areas which are highly sensitive with coronavirus cases.

Sources said that as such a large number of passes have been issued, the police department has now reportedly demanded the lists of the people who have been issued these passes so that it can take stock of the situation and act accordingly.

With respect to all these issues, the state government has taken a decision not to issue curfew passes during the month of Ramzan.

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