Kolkata: Defying the Centre’s order, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday ruled out the enforcement of curfew --- 7 pm to 7 am --- in the state during the fourth round of lockdown which will last till May 31. In a balancing act, apparently to avoid the criticism of the Centre and BJP, she however warned the people of strict police action if they step out of home after 7 pm.
Banerjee said, “The central government is talking of imposing curfew whereas work has started at various industries with 50% strength in alternative days. I have seen its instructions to enforce the curfew daily. But, we are not officially declaring curfew. The lockdown will continue throughout the day like it has been underway.”
She added, “If anyone stays out of home after 7 pm, the police will take action. It is my request to all not to stay outside home after 7 pm so that the curfew law is not enforced on them. We have allowed it (no curfew) so that you can stay at home in a free mind. Curfew is not a good word. We do not use the word unless it is an extreme emergency. Curfew is a serious issue. It is not right to leave people suffocated and tensed so much.”
According to state government sources, the police, in absence of any fresh order so far, will continue to act the same way it has been doing since the announcement of the lockdown by booking the people caught for roaming around in a group under Section 188 (disobedience of order imposed by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code along with charges of the Disaster Management Act and referring the individuals to the court for prosecution under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Banerjee also urged the Muslim community to observe Eid-ul-Fitr at home instead of outside. “I know it is tough. But, I also know only you can do it so that no one can hatch a conspiracy, defame and blame Bengal. You have played a responsible role by offering full cooperation so far during the Ramzan,” the Trinamul Congress supremo told them.
She informed that nearly 170 residents of the state, who were stranded in Bangladesh, arrived in Kolkata via a flight and were sent for quarantine. “Around 2.5-3 lakh people have already returned to the state travelling either in trains or buses from different parts of the country. I urge all political parties for cooperation,” the CM said.
To tackle the nurses’ exodus from private hospitals in Kolkata, the CM also announced training and employing unemployed youth to keep health services functional....