THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Launching one of the biggest exercises in its history, the state police have arrested a whopping 40645 people in connection with lockdown violations till Monday evening. They have also registered 40735 cases and confiscated 28400 vehicles for defying lockdown rules.
Even during the turbulent times post the Supreme Court verdict on women's entry to the Sabarimala temple, the number of cases and arrests was much fewer. Less than 7000 people were arrested for opposing the Supreme Court verdict, said senior police officers said.
With the Centre extending the lockdown till May 3, the number of cases and arrests will surge much higher, they added.
Meanwhile, the government is yet to arrive on a decision on how to collect the fines from the lockdown offenders. It was due to this prevailing confusion that the police started releasing vehicles to the respective owners without charging fines and instead prompting them to give an affidavit that vehicles will be produced before the cops when demanded. Most of the vehicles were charged under the Motor Vehicle Act making them liable to pay a fine ranging from Rs 500 to 2000.
However, many others were booked under Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, which stipulated two years imprisonment or a fine of Rs 10000 or both. State Police Chief Loknath Behera very recently had a meeting with the Advocate General on the matter and a report carrying recommendations on how to exact the fine has been submitted to the government.
Behera said he had a meeting with the Advocate General, but declined to reveal the details. "The file is now with the government. The recommendations have been submitted and it's the government that should take a call on the matter," he said.
Sources, meanwhile, said going by the ordinance the police cannot collect the fine. "In that case the vehicle owners will be dragged to the court. It's far more time-consuming than approaching the police and paying the penalty," they added.
Border checks enhanced
Meanwhile, the police have intensified their scrutiny along the inter-state borders. This heightened vigil comes in the wake of several incidents where people tried to sneak in through the porous check posts and unmanned routes. Behera said they have raised surveillance and security along the borders as per the guidelines of the Centre.
"We have increased the manpower along the borders. We are also using drones to detect illegal movement of people and vehicle through cross-border routes," he said.