Opinion : The lathi did not work. Impose heavy fines

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The complete lockdown declared by the two Telugu speaking states has seen widespread violations with the people of both the states disobeying the regulations imposed by the governments for their own good. The earnest appeal of heads of both the states seems to have fallen on the deaf ears of the people. Citizens seem to have taken the police ‘lathi’ blows too softly and breaking the law with impunity. On the one hand, the governments are finding it too hard to contain the contagion of the deadly virus and win the war against the enemy within, convincing people to stay indoors and maintain social distancing is proving to be even more difficult. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekahara Rao even warned of shoot at sight, 24 hour curfew with no relaxations and even deployment of the Army. Despite this, people in Telangana seem to have taken such warnings way too casually. The governments have to crack the whip again. The ‘danda’ (lathi) has not worked as we have seen.

Here’s a suggestion from Telugu 360.com: Impose heavy fines and penalties for every violation of the lockdown.

Rule 1: Only one person can travel in two-wheeler

Suggested fine: The government should impose a fine of at least Rs 500 with a simple imprisonment of 15 days or both, suspension or cancellation of licences.

Rule 2: Two people can travel in four-wheeler.

Suggested fine: A fine of at least Rs 1,000 should be imposed with a simple imprisonment of 20 days or both, suspension or cancellation of licences or community service

Rule 3: Only one person can step out to buy essentials like vegetables or groceries.

Suggested fine: A fine of at least Rs 500 should be imposed if more than one person shops for groceries or vegetables.

Rule 4: Leaving home with no important work or a genuine reason. People who loiter on the streets without a valid reason

Suggested fine: Rs 1,000 if citizens fail to provide enough proof for stepping out of their homes and community service for at least one week.

Rule 5: Crossing inter-state borders and thereby posing a threat to public safety

Suggested fine: Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 for people who attempt to cross interstate borders thereby posing a threat to public safety and for spreading the contagion. Community service at least 2 weeks is a must. Suspension or cancellation of licences of private vehicle owners

Rule 6: Violation of home quarantine regulations

Suggested fine: Rs 3000-4000 for not complying with instructions of home quarantine

Rule 6: Violation of mandatory 14-day quarantine hospitalization

Suggested fine: Rs 5000-6000

Rule 6: Violating the regulation on organizing social gatherings, meetings and public celebrations

Suggested fine: Rs 10,000 with imprisonment of at least 2 months for organizers of such gatherings. All those who attend such large gatherings should face at least Rs 500 fine plus community service for at least one week

Rule 6: Violating the disclosure by foreign returnees or not reporting to the officials concerned

Suggested fine: Rs 20,000 for violating mandatory protocols set by the Home Ministry and Ministry of Health. In addition, 15 month imprisonment and 15 days community service

Rule 7: Visiting hospitals and other health facilities in non-emergency situations

Suggested fine: Rs 1,000 and community service for one week

Rule 8: For not wearing masks outdoors

Suggested Fine: Rs 1,000 and 1 week community service

Rule 9: Transportation of non-essentials

Suggested Fine: Rs 10,000, suspension or cancellation of licences of vehicles and businesses

Rule 10: Violating closure of public places like shopping centers, malls, cinemas, parks and restaurants dining customers

Suggested fine: Rs 20,000, suspension or cancellation of business licences

The punishment should be immediate and there should be on-the-spot fine collection. The same people who break the law in India strictly abide by the laws of foreign countries as they know it is impossible to manipulate there. Stricter penalties and higher fines have worked in Singapore, the United States, UK, Dubai and several other countries where Indians strictly follow the rules there.

Budget conscious Indians know what it means to drive a big hole in their pockets. Such fines and penalties can deter people from violating the lockdown, help the government in its efforts to contain the spread of corona contagion, help the government in raising money for the corona cause. The money thus raised can be used for improving the health care system or public sanitation works. The system should be fool-proof in that the governments should ensure there is no scope for corruption by the law enforcing agencies in taking bribes from people and let them off the hook.

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