Gujarat govt authorises police to enforce COVID vaccination; those without certificate to be punished

The move has been criticised by auto rickshaw drivers union, retail shop owners association and other social organisations on ground that it will increase cases of police harassment and corruption

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

NH Web Desk

Even as the spread of COVID positive cases is slowing down with the second wave of pandemic showing signs of receding, the Gujarat government has decided to use police to enforce vaccination in Ahmedabad.

It will be mandatory for vegetable vendors, hotel and restaurant workers, employees of shopping malls, owners of tea and paan-cigarette shops, hair dressers, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers to carry vaccination certificate. They will also be punished, including imposition of fine and closure of their establishments, if they do not produce a negative report of RT-PCR test.

The Ahmedabad district collector will be issuing a notification to this effect shortly. The district collectors of Rajkot and Surendranagar have already issued the notification making carrying of the vaccination certificate mandatory by those who are likely to become Coronavirus ‘super spreader’ due to their daily interaction with a large number of people.

Since June 7, the government has allowed opening up of all private and government offices, shopping malls, cinema halls and resumed city bus services following a drastic reduction in COVID positive cases and improvement in recovery rate. The daily COVID positive cases as of June 10 have come down to 544 in Gujarat, as per official figures.

Despite the warning that a third wave of the pandemic is likely to hit the country in the next couple of months, the state government has relaxed all major restrictions on trade, industry and businesses due to the present trend of falling COVID figures.

All service providers such as plumbers, private security personnel, electricians, carpenters, barbers and household servants are required to either have a vaccination certificate or RT-PCR negative report with them.

If asked, they will be required to produce these documentary proofs to the police within ten days, failing which they are likely to be fined.

With the target of achieving 100 per cent vaccination in Ahmedabad city and district, the administration has decided to take punitive action, including sealing the business establishments and shops, against those who have not taken the vaccine.

Giving power to the police to enforce vaccination has been criticized by the auto rickshaw drivers union, retail shop owners association and several other social organisations on the ground that the move will increase cases of police harassment and corruption.

Workers in the unorganized sector, a large number of them living in shanties and on the pavements, had complained that the police in various industrial towns like Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Ankleshwar were extracting bribe money from them or pay a fine of Rs 1,000 if they were found not wearing mask.

With more power to the police to ‘boost’ the COVID vaccination drive, the police can also slap the provisions of the draconian Epidemic Control Act and the Disaster Management Act on persons who fail to produce vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR test report.

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