Most of Calcutta remained indoors on Tuesday, the first full day of lockdown, and the few who stepped out were stopped by police on the road.
Altogether, 1,003 people were arrested across the city for alleged violation of lockdown between 5pm on Monday and 5pm on Tuesday.
The markets had everything stocked up — from vegetables to fish. At Gariahat, a vegetable seller was heard telling a visitor: “You were scrambling for leftovers yesterday. Why don’t you take the fresh stuff today?”
A medicine store in Behala had a queue of at least 20 people in front of it in the morning. But it was not too crowded inside. “I am allowing only four customers inside at a time as a precaution against the coronavirus,” the owner said.
Checkposts were set up on every other major thoroughfare. Almost every person on the road was asked to explain why he or she had stepped out in violation of the lockdown.
An officer posted at a central Calcutta intersection stopped a biker in the morning. “He said he was trying to utilise his ‘holiday’ and going to meet his elderly uncle,” the officer said. The man was booked under IPC Section 188 (disobedience of government order).
A senior officer said some people were yet to understand the urgency of the situation.
South Calcutta, where 271 people were arrested, saw the maximum number of violations.
A posse of policemen set up a checkpost on the Howrah bridge early in the morning. Every two and four-wheeler headed to the city was stopped. The riders and drivers were being asked to show their “papers” before being allowed to proceed.
A youth who said he worked in a government bank was allowed to proceed after he showed his identity card. Another man said he ran a grocery store in the Howrah Maidan area and was headed for the Burrabazar wholesale market. An officer asked him to show his trade licence. He failed and was asked to go back.
Similar checkposts — nakas in police parlance — were visible across the city, from Lake Town in the north to Behala in the south. The number of cops often matched the number of motorists and on some stretches there were more cops than motorists.
Around 10am, a woman and two men, their faces covered in masks, were standing near the bus terminus at Esplanade with luggage. The woman said they were part of a group headed home to Behrampore. The group was seen pleading with cops to arrange transport for them.
A Naktala resident who was headed to a cancer hospital in Rajarhat, where his father-in-law had a chemo session, was stopped at multiple places.
But every time he was allowed to proceed because he could show medical papers.
Police were seen making announcements at some places asking people to stay indoors.