During the COVID-19 crisis, the role of Delhi police has become even more important in securing the capital and ensuring that the lockdown is effective.
On a day when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown extension till May 3, NewsMobile’s Editor-in-Chief Saurabh Shukla spoke to Delhi’s Police Commissioner S.N Shrivastava on COVID-19 lockdown and how Delhi Police will enforce the social distancing norms.
Question: How will you ensure strict enforcement of lockdown in the coming week?
Answer: We are awaiting orders from the MHA. For the time being, I must assure that we are strict and will continue to be strict on enforcing the lockdown. At the same time, we will make sure that essential supplies are not disturbed in any manner.
Q: Within gated colonies, people want to go out for walks. How will you tackle that?
A: Till now, we have not had such problems. My advice to everybody is that since they have done the hard work of restraining themselves within their homes, they should do it for another 19 days till May 3.
Q: Have you booked people for violating the lockdown?
A: Everyday, we are registering 500-600 cases under Section 188 of IPC. Around 5,000-6000 people are being detained daily under section 65 of the Delhi Police Act. One bus has been given to each police station. Anybody who’s violating the lockdown is made to sit in the bus and is taken to a shelter home.
Q: Have conventional crimes come down because of lockdown?
A: The crime has definitely gone down because of lockdown. A few cases of theft etc have been noticed and police has taken prompt action.
Q: What about incidents of cyber crime and fake news being circulated?
A: There has been an increase in cases of fake news. To help people deal with it, we have given an icon where people can register the piece of news they have come across and find whether it is genuine or fake. The Cyber Cell receives the news, verifies it and gives out the result to the PRO who, in turn, through media informs the people about what is fake and what is genuine.
Q: What really happened in the case of Nizamuddin? How did you not detect the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in advance? What really happened there?
A: We have registered a case in the whole matter. Since the case investigation is on, I will not like to say much at this stage. But I would like to mention the following that the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi at Nizamuddin…it is not a particular congregation…this congregation is throughout the year. At any particular time of the year, there are 2,000-5000 people congregated at this place. Not a single day passes where the people would be less than 2,000 at this place.
Q: Were they warned by the local police that they should not be doing it?
A: These congregations do take place and as has been the practice, neither is any intimation sent to the Delhi Police nor is a permission sought from the Delhi Police. So once it came to our notice that gathering was there and with the passing of the order restraining any gathering, they were persuaded to leave and in fact, many of them left. Subsequently, when incidents of coronavirus increased, they were transferred to a quarantine centre and those who had tested positive were sent to hospital for treatment. So, in a way, the damage they could have done in spreading the coronavirus was limited.
Q: How is a common man supposed to intimate the police if they find someone violating the lockdown?
A: If somebody is violating the lockdown, people can send videos and particular information to officers on the field. They can inform police stations. We have been taking action on that. I would like to formalize the procedure for this so that we can address it in a holistic, effective manner.
Q: How is Delhi Police tackling instance of domestic and child abuse caused due to lockdown?
A: The procedure is well laid out. Wherever such matters are reported to the police, we have been responding to such situations. In the last three weeks of lockdown, there has been no particular surge as such.
Q: How are you keeping a vigil on hotspots which have been sealed?
A: Once hotspots are identified, then those areas are fortified—nobody can come out of those areas or get in. And the responsibility of ensuring essential supplies reach the people is with the government. The government is doing that. In fact, the police in its own way is chipping in with help. Many hotspots are small, some others are very large. In bigger hotspots, we are using drones. Drones are also being used at anaj mandis, subzi mandis, etc to find out whether social distancing is maintained or not.
Q: There are reports of people not maintaining social distancing at places where food is being distributed. How are you dealing with it?
A: We are ensuring a lot for ensuring that social distancing is maintained at food distribution points. In fact, I have tasked the PCR vans for that. We have formed Social Distancing Volunteers to ensure that task of ensuring that people stand in queue and maintain distance. I am happy that on this front, we are doing a good job.
Q: How many Delhi Police personnel have been deployed to maintain this lockdown? Have you got central para-military forces in? How are you boosting the morale of your people?
A: The entire 90,000 policemen of Delhi Police are being deployed during this lockdown period for a variety of jobs…our job is not only for maintenance of lockdown…also it is for verification of contacts of those who are corona positive, of those who are quarantined. So lot of work is going on there…technical analysis, field verifications, so lot of manpower is also going into those things. And apart from Delhi Police, we have generous help from Central Armed Police Forces and we are utilizing them for ensuring that the lockdown and all the police arrangement that is required to be done is done.
Q: Anything specific for the senior citizens, because there are really vulnerable as the PM also said today?
A: We have around 39,000 senior citizens in Delhi. And from the beginning, I received calls from some senior citizens…they were staying alone… and they informed that because of lockdown their maids were not able to come. So besides making arrangements for the maids for come, beat constables are contacting the senior citizens and our Senior Citizens Cell has been making phone calls to senior citizens and seeking their welfare. This way, we are ensuring that senior citizens are being looked after.
Q: What is your message to the people of Delhi to make this lockdown successful?
A: The honourable PM has clearly mentioned that the only solution to the coronavirus is for people to restrict themselves in their homes. If somebody is suffering from coronavirus, if they restrict themselves to a particular place, the virus doesn’t spread. And after a period of three weeks or so, the whole thing subsides. The person who is suffering is identified, treated, and the coronavirus doesn’t spread. So this is the only solution. I urge all Delhiites and all citizens of the country to restrict themselves in the confines of their houses unless there is a need to go out for purchasing some essential goods.