Around 7.30 in the morning on Thursday, Viswa* was stopped short on his morning walk at a neighbourhood in central Chennai by a corporation official. Viswa was taken by surprise when the official informed him that the morning walk was a violation of lockdown rules and drew him a challan for a penalty of Rs 100. He tells TNM that a brisk morning walk was a part of his daily routine, however, that was the first time he took that route. He also shares that he heard from a few other fellow walkers on the road that morning that they too had been fined.
Recent reports in Chennai suggest that police have been clamping down on those who are violating lockdown norms and are seen outside their homes on foot or on vehicles without a valid reason.
As of Thursday, the Tamil Nadu police have registered 6,64,944 cases against those who violated the prohibitory orders under section 144 that is in force across the state. Over 7.23 lakh persons have been arrested under these FIRs and around 5,35,640 vehicles have been seized by the police. The police have also collected almost Rs 15.18 crore in fine amounts from those who had violated the lockdown rules. Prohibitory orders under section 144 have been in force in the state since the last week of March owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The intense lockdown in Chennai and parts of Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur and Chengalpattu is in force from June 19 to June 30. The state government decided to impose an intense lockdown in these regions due to a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 cases reported from this region over the past two weeks.
The lockdown, which began on Friday, was strictly enforced. Over 8,100 cases were booked and over 7,400 vehicles that included auto rickshaws, two-wheelers and cars were seized in Chennai alone between 6 am on June 22 and 6 am on June 23.
On Thursday, former Team India cricketer Robin Singh’s car was seized by the Chennai police as he travelled on the East Coast Road from Adyar. Reports stated that he had gone to Uthandi to buy vegetables from his house in Adyar, which is a distance of more than two kilometres. The government of Tamil Nadu had instructed residents to avoid taking their vehicles out to buy vegetables and other essential items and instead source it from the nearest shop within two kilometres of their residences.