Birbhum police on Monday launched a special drive and set targets for each of the 24 police stations in the district to detain people found roaming without masks to spread awareness and check the spike in Covid-19 cases.
Police sources said the drive had been initiated to enforce the practice of wearing masks. To ensure all strictness, the district police decided to fix a target for police station similar to the ones given to catch errant bikers or petty criminals. Each police station was given a target to detain 200-300 persons on Monday depending on the area of the police station. The police stations would be given new targets every day.
“Our goal is to make people wear masks while they are out of their home. The practice is mandatory to stop the spread of Covid-19. Earlier, we took undertakings from at least 4,000 people on road and now we are enforcing it,” said Shyam Singh, the Birbhum police chief.
“We also distributed masks to those who were roaming without the same. Campaigning through a public announcement system is on,” he said.
Those who were caught in Birbhum on Monday without masks were detained at local police stations for at least four hours and released after taking a written assurance that they would wear masks when they would be out of home next time.
The police also started specific cases against a few under the Disaster Management Act, too. This might entail one year in jail or fine for the violator.
On Monday morning, police teams accompanied by local block development officers or subdivisional officers hit the road and started detaining those without masks.
“We picked up the violators and took them to the police station for detention. All the police stations have detained around 3,500 people and the final report is yet to come from many police stations,” said a senior police officer.
Like Birbhum, other districts like Purulia, Bankura and East Burdwan are ensuring that people wear masks and many said that it was a challenge to make it a habit.
“Those found not wearing masks are sent back home. In a few cases, the violators have been asked to report at the police station with a mask,” said Koteswara Rao, the Bankura police chief.
In East Burdwan, the police are also following the same measures like Bankura but are also distributing masks among the poor.
“Apart from ensuring that violation does not happen, we are distributing thousands of masks among people,” said Bhaskar Mukherjee, the SP of East Burdwan.