KOCHI: At least 41 people, who ventured out for a morning walk in a posh area here early Saturday morning, were caught on night vision cameras of a drone deployed by the city police to enforce social distancing to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus.
The violators were 39 men and two women, police said.
They were held for violating Section 144 of CrPC clamped in the district prohibiting assembly of more than four people, police said.
They have been charged under IPC Sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and Section 4 of The Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020 passed by Kerala government last week, the police said.
"The rule came into force to unify and consolidate laws relating to the regulation and prevention of epidemic diseases," they said.
Section 4 of the ordinance allows the state government to take special measures and frame regulations to tackle an epidemic disease.
All have been released on station bail, police said.
The police headquarters have given drones to several districts including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur and Kannur for carrying out surveillance to enforce social distancing.
The drones having night vision can fly 40 minutes continuously at a time.
In Kochi, the police started flying the drones at 4.30 am in the areas where the chances for the people to come out violating lockdown announced by the government.
"When we flew it (drone) in the morning we were able to see the people moving through the (Panampilly Nagar) walkway. They were warned by the police continuously asking them not to come out.
Even after repeated warning, these people were coming out. They were ignorant, then we thought we have to take stringent action (against the violators)," G Poonguzhali, Deputy Commissioner of Kochi City Police, told PTI.
The police rushed vehicles to the spot after identifying the number of people on the walkway through the visuals sent by the drone.
Police said the drone using its night vision camera has clicked the photos of the violators and this would be used against the violators in the court.
Poonguzhali said the drones would visit markets, walkways and other areas in the city where there are more chances for the people to assemble to ensure that they are complying with the gathering rules brought out by the government to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
"It is reducing the labour of police. It is definitely aiding police in effectively implementing lockdown," said.