THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Breaking lockdown rules by the public can be catastrophic for the state, which is fighting against COVID-19. Thousands of arrests and vehicle seizures have been made so far by the police in a bid to dissuade the public from going out without valid reasons. The necessity for increased police action is a cause of worry, however, there is a silver tint at the edge of the dark cloud. The offenders now stand to pay several crore rupees to the exchequer as fine and that is a welcome gesture given the wobbling financial condition of the state.
Since the lockdown, the state police have confiscated more than 13,000 vehicles, which have been kept at the police stations. The decision is to release them once the lockdown is lifted, most probably on or after April 14, only after exacting the fine amount. For most of the vehicles, the fines will range from `500 to `2000 and in cases were the seizures were made under the more stringent Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, the erred vehicle owners will have to cough up about `10,000 to bail out their vehicles.
Even if the fine amount is recovered under the Motor Vehicle Act (with a fine ceiling of `2,000), for 13,000 vehicles the collective fine amount will run over around `two crores. With several more days left for the lockdown to end, the number of seized vehicles is expected to cross 18,000 and so is the fine amount. State Police Chief Loknath Behera, meanwhile, said they are not overly bothered about the financial aspects resulting from the police action.
“Our focus was to prevent the public from moving outside. If the public makes a mockery of the lockdown, then the good efforts of the state government will go down the drain. We shouldn’t allow that from happening,” he said. Nevertheless, the public also seems to have learned their lessons as the number of vehicles venturing out has come down over these days, Behera added. “Now, the number of vehicles on the roads is less.
That’s a good sign,” he said. However, other senior police officials said the financial aspect of the police action cannot be ignored. “Firstly, fines act deterrent. In our case, when the financial matters are being widely discussed and more money needs to be pushed to find the pandemic, who won’t welcome the fines? Fines now serves two purposes,” said a senior officer.
2,250 arrested, 2,221 cases registered for flouting lockdown curbs in state
T’Puram: The police on Sunday arrested 2,250 people and registered 2,221 cases in the state in connection with its crackdown on lockdown violators. As many as 1,567 vehicles were also seized for plying without prior sanction and valid reasons. The highest number of violation was recorded in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts. Thiruvananthapuram witnessed 400 cases and 392 arrests, while Kollam had 400 cases and 405 arrests.