Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday appealed to the people and the state police to show restrain during the 21-day nationwide lockdown. He said if clashes between common people and the police don’t stop, the government may be forced to call in the Army.
“Cooperative housing societies should plan purchase of daily items required by its members. In the US, the military has been deputed to control daily life. I appeal to all, please don’t force us to call the military to take charge,” Ajit Pawar said.
Referring to an attack on Dr Kishor Dange at Malegaon general Hospital, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the government will not spare anyone who attacks doctors, health workers and cops. The doctor was allegedly attacked by local AIMIM MLA Mufti Mohammad Ismail. The reason for the attack is unknown.
His comments came in the backdrop of reports of clashes between police and common people who were out of their homes during the lockdown.
Instances of clashes between police and common people are rising in Maharashtra even though the state government clarified that essential services will not be suspended during the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The lockdown was announced on Tuesday and is aimed at containing the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.
Clashes between police and common people have been reported in Mumbai, Hingoli and Beed. People are reportedly unhappy with the police beating up anyone seen on roads. There have been complaints that cops are stopping and beating up people even if they are out of their home for an emergency.
In Mumbai and Hingoli, people attacked two policemen after they were stopped from coming out of their homes. In Mira Road, on the outskirts of Mumbai, a biker ran over a policeman posted on duty to disperse the crowd.
A circular issued by the state government on Wednesday said, “Essential services like food items, vegetables, fruits, grocery and bakery items are exempted from lockdown. Vendors can provide home deliveries by taking appropriate care. Police will facilitate their movement on road.”
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said he has instructed the police to take stringent action against those roaming on the streets. “We can request people thrice to remain indoors, not more than that. If cops are going hard against them, there must be some reason,” he said.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said police should allow smooth transport of essential commodities. “There are reports that cops are caning everyone. It’s not the right It way to deal with the current situation. I request them to allow transporters to carry medicines, grocery and vegetables. There is enough stock of these commodities.”