By Shreya Haridas
Trivandum, March 26: Trivandrum police have installed check points at several junctions and points where people gather in the city to implement the 21-day lockdown to fight COVID effectively. People are allowed to go outside only to avail ‘essential services’. They have to produce a self-attested affidavit specifying the purpose and destination of their trip and an ID card.
The police often decide what ‘essential services’ are. “My daughter’s teeth were removed to put braces a week ago. Yesterday, when I was taking her to the dentist to put the braces, the police sent me back saying it is not an emergency. Now my daughter’s teeth will have huge gaps between them!” complains Sreerekha Jiju, a school teacher on leave due to the lockdown..
Even if a person is familiar to the police at the checkposts, people are not let to pass without checking. Sometimes, when the crowd is at a huge junction, like the Pappanamcode junction, ID proofs and affidavits are not enough. Chitra Jayaram, a bank employee says, “I had to go to the nearest police station and get a letter from them to show at the check post, even though my profession comes under ‘essential services’.”
Sometimes, even when people produce affidavits, police cross question them to see if they are actually going to the destination specified. Where more than five people crowd together, the police beat people with their lathis. Two-wheeler riders without masks are scolded. Other traffic rules like wearing helmet are not eased and the regular fine is charged.
While people complain about the strict implementation of the lockdown, police say that sometimes they tend to be rude due to desperation. While most citizens cooperate, some have taken the corona scenario lightly and are making a joke out of it, says Praveen PV, Civil Police Officer at the checking point at Attakulangara bus stop. “People roam about the place saying they want to buy one packet of milk..or half a kg onion… some people even go to the extend of buying milk from one place and selling it for a higher charge where the shops have closed. We have seized the vehicles of those who do that.”
“Even after issuing advertisements and news articles for producing an affidavit, people say they have not been made aware of it,” says Dinesh M, another police officer at the checkpost. “However, the people here are far more cooperative than in the other states.”