Kerala lockdown
Police personnel stop commuters during lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, in Kochi on Tuesday. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: A Chiristian priest and a former police officer were among many people who were booked on Wednesday for violating lockdown norms in Kerala.

A Christian priest and office-bearers of St Peter’s Church at Adoor in Pathanamthitta district were booked when the priest led a funeral prayer service where more than 100 people took part, police sources said.

The police have warned not to crowd marriage functions or funeral services.

At Kottaraka in Kollam district, a former police officer was charged for organising the marriage of his daughter, drawing over 100 invitees, thus violating the norms prescribed by the district authorities.

The police had warned him not to hold the function in a big way.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday had warned people to stay indoors else face legal action.

Police registered around 50 cases across the coastal state against those moving around unnecessarily. Those riding vehicles could be seen arguing with police at many places in the state. Police stopped those riding vehicles and allowed only those to proceed further who had documents to prove the bona fide reasons for travel. The rest were asked to return.

Police check information

On Wednesday morning, authorities decided to close down all retail liquor outlets that had been allowed to open so far in the state.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday had called for tough action against people violating lockdown imposed hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on Tuesday night for a 21-day national lockdown.

Kerala lockdown virus
Police personnel stop commuters during lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, in Kochi on Tuesday. Image Credit: ANI

State Devasoms Minister Kadakampally Surendran was exasperated over some people’s nonchalant response. “Some people are seeing this lockdown as a shutdown (harthal) which we frequently see in the state. This lockdown is different. Fail to understand that despite numerous directives, people still appear not to have taken the lockdown seriously. But strict action is going to be taken against those who violate the rules,” said Surendran.

At Kollam, a person was booked after he told police he was going to the house of a relative who had passed away. When police called up the number he provided to cross-check his information, they were surprised when the person who was supposed to have died answered the call.

Police used drones at Thrissur to check people on the roads in a five sq km area. The city had recorded the first coronavirus positive case in the country in January and currently has over 11,000 people under observation.

“This was done to find out where the traffic was moving and additional police force send there for suitable action,” said a senior police official.

Chief minister meets district authorities

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday held meeting with district authorities and top police officials through video conferencing, where he asked them to think out of the box to deal with the present coronavius crisis.

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“The nation is passing through times that have never been witnessed before and to deal with this, all of you have to think out of the box to handle the evolving situation. Prime importance has to be given to ensuring uninterrupted supply of food and medicines and in this time of crisis, none should try to make any attempt to score political brownie points,” said Vijayan.

“Authorities now should see that there is perfect well oiled machinery at the grassroots level to ensure that food is there for all. The local village council should ensure that community kitchens are set up and food should be cooked by professional cooks. It should then be supplied to the needy. Such activities should be extended to the hospitals where people are under observation, for this take the help of social groups that are there at the village level,” added Vijayan.

“15 kilogram of rice will be given to those who are not in the priority list in the public distribution system. Plans are being worked out to see, if a special kit of provisions (essential items) can be distributed,” said Vijayan.

He also asked the authorities to see that at homes where there is no separate bathroom for those under isolation, then such people should be moved out to other places.