With rising Covid cases and the possibility of a third wave looming on the horizon, the Mumbai police on Thursday imposed orders under Criminal Procedure Code section 144, prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons during the Ganesh festival between September 10 and 19. The police move came days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s call to strictly follow Covid protocols, and especially avoid crowding, as the third wave of the pandemic is at the city’s doorstep.
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the authorities to issue prohibitory orders for preventive purposes. The order will be applicable in the jurisdiction of the Mumbai Police Commissionerate.
No processions of any kind will be allowed in the city during this period and devotees will not be allowed to visit Ganesh pandals either, an official statement said. “People can have ‘darshan’ of Ganesh idols installed in pandals through the online mode or through other electronic media (such as TV),” according to the statement.
The order issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police S Chaitanya refers to the directives of the home department, as well as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Any person violating the orders would face action under IPC section 188 (disobeying order lawfully promulgated by public servant) and other relevant laws, it said.
The Maharashtra home department had issued a circular the day before banning visits to pandals so as to prevent the transmission of the virus. The order was issued on a day when city markets were heavily crowded for shopping for the 10-day festival.
On Wednesday, there were 530 new coronavirus cases in Mumbai, the highest since mid-July.
Meanwhile, Pune Police have also imposed prohibitory orders in that city during the Ganesh festival. Police have urged the citizens to follow Covid norms and cooperate. Pune is among the cities that celebrate Ganeshotsav on a grand scale but because of the ongoing pandemic, the government and the district administration have called for low-key celebrations.