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‘Section 144 order’ stokes confusion in Mumbai amid COVID-19 scare, but it’s not for public

Mumbai police has invoked Section 144 to prohibit guided tours as the coronavirus pandemic continues to gain ground.

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Mumbai: A Mumbai police order stoked confusion online about the imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 in light of the coronavirus pandemic but the force clarified Sunday that it just pertained to tour operators who organise guided excursions.

The number of coronavirus cases has surged to 31 in Maharashtra.

“…It is apprehended that there is likelihood of spread of the COVID-19 virus through business/holiday tour groups traveling together…and that there is grave danger to human life, health or safety,” the order read.

Several social media users, however, mistook the order as a blanket ban under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code that prohibits the gathering of five or more persons.

Messages widely circulated on Whatsapp declared that Section 144 had been imposed in Mumbai while Twitter saw a flurry of posts seeking clarification from Mumbai police.

WhatsApp messages declaring curfew in Mumbai

A Twitter user went as far as calling for the cancellation of exams in light of the Section 144 notification.

https://twitter.com/Sjoshi_2211/status/1239131472310624258?s=20

Amid the confusion, stand-up comic Abijit Ganguly also tweeted to ask if Section 144 had actually been invoked in Mumbai even as he expressed scepticism.

https://twitter.com/AbijitG/status/1239112297429098496?s=20

Mumbai Police issues clarification

Amid the confusion, Mumbai Police took to Twitter to offer a clarification.

“Prohibiting conducting any business/holiday or other types of tours, organised by any Private Tour Operator(s), involving groups of people traveling together, to foreign or domestic destinations or otherwise, to prevent spread of Coronavirus,” the Twitter post read.

Police added, “Kindly note that this is a very specific order for tour operators, in order to prevent danger to human life, health or safety. It should not be confused with the regular order issued u/s. 144 CrPC.”

 

(In collaboration with SM Hoaxslayer)

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