Lockdown Day 5: Police Excesses Continue on Bona Fide Traders in their Challenge to Enforce Lockdown
GUWAHATI: These are challenging times for everyone in the society in the current countrywide lockdown. More so for the police force that has been entrusted with implementing the lockdown and in the city, the police have done a reasonable job in maintaining peace, harmony and social sanity. However, sporadic incidents of police excesses have surfaced and one such incident occurred on March 27 last.
Anil Jain, a resident of Fancy Bazar, owns a ration shop in Azara area of Guwahati.
The government of India has put ration and grocery items under exempted list of commodities over the 21-day lockdown period. Such shops have been allowed to remain open till 6 PM daily.
Anil Jain took his trade license along with other relevant documents and went to open his shop on March 27.
"In the morning, when I went to open the shop, there was no problem. I was stopped by the police a couple of times but on furnishing my documents, I was allowed to go. Everything went on smoothly at the shop as customers maintained social distance. While returning home at around 2 PM, I was stopped by the police near Jalukbari police station. They disregarded my trade license, GST certificate and other documents that proved me as a bona fide trader and slapped me a hefty fine of Rs 2,000 to let me go," expressed Anil Jain.
Jain was accompanied by his son and two of his employees and they were travelling by a four wheeler. They were charged under Section 179 of the Motor Vehicle Act, according to the challan.
Section 179 of MV Act applies when a person disobeys orders or creates obstruction and refusal of information which was asked for by the authorities and under these conditions the person is liable to penalty with fine up to Rs. 500/- or with imprisonment up to 1 month.
So, the maximum fine that could be charged to Anil Jain under Section 179 was actually Rs 500.
"The police wasn't ready to listen to us. They were threatening us with lathi charge and said they would keep my car if I failed to oblige," Jain told G Plus.
So, Jain paid the fine of Rs 2000 to the police. But, as an aftermath, he hasn't opened his shop since the incident took place while the residents of Azara keep calling him for basic amenities.
Speaking to G Plus regarding the incident, IPS Nilesh Sawakare, DCP (West) said, "If the fine has exceeded the mandate of the law, we will take up the matter and strict action will be taken against the concerned officer."
He further added that instructions have been given to all police personnel starting from the top to grassroots not to use physical force on citizens as this lockdown is for the safety of the people and the law doesn't allow for such excessive action.