Lockdown: Mumbaikars fume at cops' 'bizarre' impounding drive

Updated: Jul 01, 2020, 07:43 IST | Vishal Singh, Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Vehicle owners claim that police seizing vehicles even when they have valid reasons for travel

Mumbai police personnel make enquiries with two-wheeler riders near Opera House on Tuesday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Mumbai police personnel make enquiries with two-wheeler riders near Opera House on Tuesday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Mumbai police's new order to not venture beyond a 2-km radius from home and impounding of vehicles that do has brought troubling times for Mumbaikars.

Bhagyesh Raut, a fashion photographer is a Jogeshwari East resident. On Sunday afternoon, Raut was going to the market near his house when policemen stopped him and confiscated his bike. When Raut asked why his bike is being seized, he was only told that he will get it back in three days. Raut was frightened by the police's sudden action. "The market is 500 metres from my house. Police did not even check my license while seizing the bike," Raut said.

Mahesh Vichare, journalist and resident of Worli Koliwada, ventured outside on June 29 morning. "I was going to the Dadar vegetable market. Cops stopped me at Siddhivinayak Temple asked my reason for travel. After I replied, they said they have to impound my vehicle. When I asked why they said its an order," said Vichare. "They have given me a slip and said they will contact me. I simply don't understand the rule. If the market is open and I am taking all precautions while travelling how is it going to spread COVID-19?"

Rehman Sheikh, a resident of Shivaji Nagar, owns an OLA car. His car, being driven by a driver, was stopped by a cop on Sunday morning. "Cops did not say a word to my driver. They asked him to take the vehicle to a police station and leave it there. When I reached the police station and asked for the reason, they just said they have orders. Three days have passed since the impounding of my car but it has not been released yet. I did not even get a proper receipt. I just resumed my business after three months of hardship and this bizarre rule is troubling us."

Mumbai police spokesperson, DCP Prannoy Ashok, said, "Mumbai police is taking action against people who are out without a valid reason. Those with valid reasons are not having vehicles impounded. Due to action against people going out without a reason, traffic has reduced."

What is the drive?
The 2-km drive was launched by Mumbai police on Sunday. On the first day, 7,075 vehicles were impounded by police stations and traffic departments. On Monday, 8,611 vehicles were impounded. The vehicles include 474 autos, 295 taxis, 1,601 private cars and 6,241 motorcycles.

Vehicle owners will be given a notice and their vehicle will be released through the court after filing of charge sheet. "The owner has to tell the magistrate the reason for travelling and if the magistrate is satisfied, he will issue punishment or fine," said a police inspector. Some vehicle owners are getting penalties ranging from R300 to R1,200. "Sometimes we charge drivers or riders for not wearing a mask or riding without a helmet, sometimes we take multiple fines from one person. It depends on the offence," said a policeman. However, police personnel admitted that they don't have clear instructions about who exactly is to be fined and whose vehicles are to be impounded.

Visiting the market, salons, barbershops, etc. are permitted only within a 2-km radius from the residence. Movement outside this radius is prohibited. Similarly, the movement for exercise is restricted to open spaces located within 2 km from home. Going beyond 2 km is permitted only to go to office or attend to medical emergencies. Impounded vehicles are kept at police station premises or at open spaces in the police's jurisdiction.

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