While the whole country is still battling the fight against the ongoing pandemic, Mumbai is facing the major brunt of it. Other state governments might have lifted travel restrictions but that is not the case when it comes to Maharashtra. Non-essential movement is still restricted and the Mumbai Police is pretty vocal about it. Mumbai Police’s twitter handle is one happening place and apart from sharing sarcastic quips, Mumbaikars also receive important information regarding the city.
On 18th August, 2020, Mumbai Police’s tweet read “Strict legal action will be taken and vehicles will be seized if any non-permitted & non-essential vehicular movement is noticed. This is not just against the rules, but also not in favour of your own safety, at this crucial moment in Mumbai’s fight against #COVID19.”
It was all fun and games until Mumbai Police actually started seizing vehicles which they found out strolling on the streets without any permit and without a legitimate reason for essential travel. Since last Tuesday, Mumbai Traffic Police has seized over 2,000 vehicles. This sudden step-up in action against motorists garnered a mixed response of netizens while most of the people were criticizing the move. In June, police had faced criticism when they announced legal action against those venturing beyond 2km from home, except for essentials and going to the office. Within a week, they had to alter the order and replace the word “2km” with “neighbourhood.”
The criticism that followed
The said tweet was criticised by many on social media, with some Twitter users asking the police to classify what is essential and non-essential movement. People also asked the police if the coronavirus-induced lockdown was still in force or the unlock phase was on.
“Both the government and cops are confused about what to follow and ignore. It’s a complete failure of communication and expected considering the level of mismanagement which happens,” a Twitter user said. While another tweet said, “Why so confused about everything @MumbaiPolice or is it the social media team/agency goofed up on copy-paste of content or is it the fact that you seriously need help achieving targets with fines!”
State Governments have begun easing the restrictions. However, sudden and improper communication has been leading to chaos, as the general public, eager to get on with life, steps out, only to confront law-enforcing authorities who are mostly not in sync with what’s allowed and what’s not. However, logic must prevail and we believe leisure travel can take a pause for a little while. On the other hand, if we are really calling it the ‘unlocking’ phase, travel restrictions should be lifted and the authorities should focus more on enforcing the social distancing norms.
The restrictions in Mumbai aren’t only limited to the distance aspect only as the Police has clarified from time to time than travelling in greater numbers than those permitted will result in strict action too. There are permanent nakabandis at some locations and a Police officer has quoted that they might increase the number of nakabandis if they find that that the number of people out for nonpermitted travel is increasing.