MUMBAI: Taking a stern view of many people still sauntering out on the roads despite a state and nationwide lockdown, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday hinted that he would not hesitate to deploy the Army to control the crowding menace.
"In the USA, to enforce the lockdown, they have taken the help of US Army. Don't compel us to do the same. This will be your responsibility," Pawar warned.
Pawar's statements came after reports of people hitching hikes in milk vans, a policeman seriously injured after a motorcyclist drove straight into him to avoid being stopped in Vasai (Palghar), attacks on policemen in Beed, activists of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Mumineen on doctors and workers at a Malegaon hospital, and other incidents.
Pawar's veiled threat came during a discussion with other ministers and top officials amid reports of how large numbers of people simply walk out of their homes during curfew and lockdown period, with blatant attacks on doctors, paramedical workers and even police.
"Any attacks or impediments caused to persons engaged in activities pertaining to the anti-coronavirus measures will not be tolerated and stringent action will be taken against them," Pawar made it clear.
At the same time, he assured that there are sufficient stocks of milk, fruits, vegetables, medicines, foodgrains, fuel and all other essential items of daily life.
"However, the crowds are still witnessed in the markets which is a matter of serious concern. I have instructed the officials to take steps to provide essentials to the people at their doorsteps or at their society gates to prevent them from going out. This has been implemented successfully in Baramati and Wai towns," Pawar added.
Moreover, he called upon social organisations, NGOs and volunteers to come forward and take care of senior citizens, students, slum dwellers and the homeless poor in their localities by providing them with food and other requirements on humanitarian grounds.