KATHMANDU, March 31: Police briefly detained as many as 8,500 individuals for wandering outside their homes against the government order during the first week of nationwide lockdown.
Most of the people unnecessarily venturing out of their homes and forming crowds at the market places were detained and released after an hour of questioning. According to Nepal Police headquarters, 1,968 people were detained across the country on Monday alone.
"Police have been briefly detaining those wandering outside of their homes unnecessarily and making crowd as such activities would help spread the coronavirus," said Nepal Police Spokesperson Umesh Raj Joshi.
"Those taken under control are being released after counseling," he added.
Any activity of flouting the lockdown could land a person in prison for up to six months or fined Rs 100 or both, in accordance to the Infectious Disease Control Act. But instead of taking action, police have been urging those taken under control not to come out of their homes again unless there is something urgent.
The government has decided to release prisoners who have been charged in less serious offences and are due to be released in less than a year because the prisons are already overcrowded.
Although the police have claimed that they have been releasing flouters after counseling, images and videos showing police baton charging at the people and making them squat on the road have gone viral on social media in the recent days.
A photo showing the police forcing a man with cooking gas cylinder on his shoulder to squat on the road has incited public ire against the law enforcement body and was widely shared on social media on Monday.
After public criticism, the police headquarters said it has been searching for the police personnel involved in such act. However, the police were struggling to find out the location of the incident and to identify the police personnel involved.
"We are investigating the incident and will take action against the police personnel if they are found guilty," Joshi said.
Police have also briefly seized 11,433 vehicles operating without passes issued by the authorities. Those apprehended by the police were found traveling without any valid reason, according to the police headquarters. Altogether 433 vehicles were seized on Monday across the country.
"We return most of the vehicles to their owners after an hour or so but police may impound those vehicles if they are already in the wanted list of police for breaching laws before or if the driver is found inebriated," Spokesperson Joshi said.
Most of the seized vehicles are two-wheelers and most of them were seized in the Kathmandu Valley, according to the police. The government has allowed vehicles to be used for transportation of essential goods, garbage management and during emergency without any pass.