KOLKATA: Cops have had to crack down on rule-breakers at markets which have started to get crowded after certain relaxations were allowed for retail shops from June 1.
There were even minor traffic snarls in central Kolkata despite almost no public transport on the roads, said Lalbazar officers. They also said they had to let several vehicles go unchecked at nakas as the queue got longer at places like Park Street crossing and Howrah bridge.
Market areas have been witnessing maximum violations. After 10am, a section of citizens are refusing to return home saying they will need to travel to the bigger wholesale markets to replenish their stocks after noon. “None of these people are small traders. They are just trying to take this opportunity to be out on the streets,” said a joint commissioner at Lalbazar.
A few shop owners, too, are keeping shutters up past the closing time. Sources said the Gariahat police and Bowbazar police have drawn up FIRs against these people over the past three days.
The cops said over 2,403 people have either been arrested or prosecuted in the past three days, the highest since the enhanced restrictions began. On Monday, 790 people were prosecuted — 659 by noon. Till Tuesday noon, 559 people were prosecuted out of the total 666 prosecutions on that day. On Wednesday, 947 people were prosecuted by noon. According to Lalbazar, this clearly shows that violations are happening in the morning during the market operating and closing hours.
“Given that we usually begin prosecutions around 9am, the huge numbers show that the maximum prosecutions took place post 10am, by which time the markets should be shutting down,” said an officer. The south, southeast and central Kolkata divisions that account for the biggest markets in the city have contributed to around 40% of all challans issued in the past two days. The slums of Kolkata are other areas where a lot of violations have been reported in the past 48 hours, said cops.
The trend is almost similar with mask violations. “In the past two days, there have been 220-235 cases by noon instead of the average 150-170,” said an officer.
The cops said they are now carrying out intense market patrolling.