Residents rush home before night curfew

Many parts of the city witnessed unusual heavy traffic from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. as people rushed home before the night curfew that began at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

All the shops, hotels, roadside eateries, commercial establishments and textile showrooms, both in the city and in rural areas, were closed at 9 p.m. while petrol outlets remained open. At many private offices and establishments, workers, who have to travel for over an hour to reach their houses, were allowed to start earlier. Most of the mofussil buses departed before 7 p.m. from the bus stands so that to reach the destination by 9 p.m. while town buses were operated to reach their destinations by 9.30 p.m. Since vehicle movement was high, many arterial roads and junctions witnessed traffic congestions.

Superintendent of Police P. Thangadurai told The Hindu that two inter-State check-posts at Hasanur and Thattakarai in Bargur Hills and 11 inter-district check posts were manned by additional police personnel and vehicles will not be allowed to enter the district after 10 p.m. Also, 21 vehicle check posts were created within the district to check for vehicle movement. A total of 450 police personnel, monitored by senior officers, were on duty to enforce the night curfew, he said and added that only ambulances, medical emergency vehicles and vehicles carrying essential commodities were permitted to ply on the road during the curfew. “All steps were taken for strict compliance of the guidelines,” he said.

Salem Staff Reporter adds

In Salem city, police have set up check points at four places and movement of vehicles were monitored. Police Commissioner Santosh Kumar said, “about 500 police personnel have been deployed as part of checks for night curfew and persons moving with valid reasons would not be stopped. Staff at industries who would have to work during the curfew period should produce valid IDs.” He said that personnel have been advised to prevent any incidents of police excess. Mr.Kumar said that police have also been advised to check crowding at businesses.

Police personnel went around in patrol vehicles and warned businesses especially street eateries to shut shop by 9 p.m. Though government had said fuel stations would operate, significant number of vehicles were found at bunks for fuelling.

An auto driver operating from Salem railway junction said that though they are ready to operate during the curfew hours, they still lack clarity on the guidelines. He said that they are afraid that there would police checks, especially while returning after dropping off passengers and they may face fines. Auto drivers said that government should relax two passenger restriction and at least permit three passengers.

Officials at the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation said that only four services were operated within the city.Officials said that last services are expected to reach nearest depot by 9.30 p.m.

Passengers who were travelling from Salem railway station arrived early and waited outside fearing lack of services after 10 p.m.

Grocery shop owners expressed concern that the lockdown may affect supply of vegetables to shops as it is being implemented till 4 a.m.

Superintendent of Police for Namakkal S.Sakthi Ganesan said that eight check posts have been set up besides night patrol teams for checking vehicle movements. Mr.Ganesan said that each check post would be manned by three police personnel and motorists moving unnecessarily would be fined

Krishnagiri Special Correspondent adds

The start of the curfew on Tuesday night was a normal affair with adequate warning to the public. However, eateries scurried to shutter down way ahead of the time in towns like Hosur, which are usually open till 11 p.m. Commuters were also seen rushing home with the clock ticking away to 10 p.m. Similarly, in Dharmapuri the start of he curfew was uneventful, except for the town hurriedly shutting down way ahead of time.

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