Loitering in a public place without a face mask? You will no longer be merely caught, fined and sent home. In a first, a 28-year-old Deonar resident was booked by the Govandi Police on Wednesday afternoon for failing to wear a face mask in a public place.
An official from the BMC Prathamesh Jadhav spotted Rahul Madhukar Wankhede (28) roaming around Sawli Naka in suburban Chembur without a face mask. Jadhav confronted Wankhede and later took him to Govandi police station.
According to Jadhav, Wankhede failed to give him a satisfactory explanation for not wearing one; he also refused to rectify his mistake and instead questioned Jadhav, stating that he was wasting his time.
An FIR was lodged against Wankhede, who was then arrested under Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). Wankhede was later released by the Govandi police.
"I hope he has learnt his lesson. We don't penalise citizens without good reason. Levying fines is not the aim, the idea is to dissuade them from taking the mask lightly, or disregarding it. We want citizens to wear a mask in public, and those defying the rule and questioning us will face penalty along with police action," said a senior BMC official.
The action came a day after the BMC decided to initiate a joint crackdown with the local and and the traffic police against those found violating the guideline.
In a meeting held via video conference on Tuesday afternoon, civic chief Iqbal Singh Chahal had directed all ward officers to initiate joint action against offenders.
The official added, "Given the awareness that has been created, there is no room for people to say they do not understand the rules or that they are not aware of them. No more leniency will be shown, and from now on, stern action will be taken."