Police struggled to ensure physical distancing norms were followed, and have stressed the need for more counters at the liquor shops
Chaos prevailed outside many Tasmac shops in Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu districts on Thursday, after the liquor outlets opened after a gap of nearly 45 days of the COVID-19 lockdown. Police sources said that the lack of sufficient counters in the shops and the time taken to issue bills upon purchase caused long queues in many places.
Police personnel struggled to make people follow personal distancing norms, as thousands of excited people arrived to purchase alcohol. In a few places, mild force had to be used to make people stand in the queue and the Tiruvallur police have detained a few people who came there from Chennai to purchase alcohol.
After the shops were closed on March 24, the government recently announced that the outlets could be opened from May 7, across the State except in Chennai and in containment zones. Out of the 500-odd shops in Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Chengalpattu districts only around 100 shops were opened as others were either in containment zones or on Chennais’ border.
Police sources said that people were stopped a few hundred meters before the shop and tokens were issued. “People were allowed towards the shop in batches,” said a police officer. Though the shops were supposed to function between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, people began waiting to purchase tokens since 3 a.m.
“People were excited and danced after getting the bottles. Personal distancing went for a toss. In many shops bottles were sold at a higher price than that fixed by the government,” said K. Ilamaran, who was waiting at a shop in Mappedu.
In Gummidipoondi, police said they had to use force to make people stand in queues and maintain personal distancing. “Through a public address system we as
ked people to maintain distancing, but no one listened. Hence we had to use lathis,” said an officer.
Proper checking not done
Police sources said that checking of Aadhar card was not done properly by Tasmac staff in some places before issuing tokens. Hence many from Chennai managed to purchased alcohol. “Around 15 persons from Chennai were detained in Tiruvallur and their vehicles will be seized. From Friday, police will check the Aadhar cards,” said an officer.
Another cause for the pile-up was the lack of sufficient counters. “The process of issuing bills, with the Aadhar number of the buyer written on it, takes some time. We have recommended Tasmac to increase the number of counters so that the sale happens quickly. Besides, they need to print more tokens. On the first day they had printed hardly 500 and were using it on a rotational basis,” said a police source.