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Mask prosecution slackens in Kolkata

The Telegraph toured across the city and found most of the people on the roads were without masks

Monalisa Chaudhuri, Debraj Mitra | Published 02.04.22, 08:06 AM
Shoppers without masks in New Market on Friday evening.

Shoppers without masks in New Market on Friday evening.

Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

The city police did not share the number of people prosecuted for not wearing masks till late on Friday evening — something they had been doing for the last two years.

The change suggested to some that the police may have formally stopped prosecuting people without masks in public places.


According to the latest communication by the city police on March 31, 123 people were prosecuted till 8pm on March 30 for the offence.

Asked if the police have formally stopped prosecution for flouting the mask rule, there was no response over the phone or through text message from joint commissioner (headquarters) Subhankar Sinha Sarkar.

Officers at several police stations said there was no instruction from Lalbazar to stop ‘mask prosecutions’ but unofficially, they had already stopped the exercise. Most people on the roads were without masks.

“If we start prosecuting people without a mask, we will have to record cases against thousands of them,” said an officer in Gariahat in south Kolkata. 

The scene was the same across New Market, Esplanade, Park Street and pockets of Bhowanipore.

This newspaper toured across central and south Kolkata on Friday and found the majority of the people on the roads was without masks. The government notification on March 31, which declared the withdrawal of Covid restrictions, also “advised” that the health and hygiene protocol, including wearing of masks, “shall continue” to be strictly observed.

People will still have to wear masks to visit shopping malls.

The South City Mall authorities said they would continue with their vigil against mask-less people. “There will be provision of free masks for those who will turn up without a mask,” said an official of the mall.

At Quest Mall, an official said there was a “lack of clarity” in the government order over wearing or not wearing a mask. “In the absence of  clarity, we will continue with the existing practice of ‘No Mask No Entry’ unless there is a government order withdrawing the use of masks,” the official said.

Officers at Lalbazar said each of the 25 traffic guards had been asked to choose two locations in their respective areas to conduct checks on traffic rule violations at night.

“The maximum number of violations used to be reported till midnight. Now that the night curfew has been withdrawn, we are expecting things to change,” said an officer.

Last updated on 02.04.22, 02:03 PM

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