At least 5,834 people were arrested in the capital from July 1 to July 25 on charges of breaching lockdown rules
With the law enforcement agencies continuing their drive to arrest people for flouting lockdown regulations in the capital, many of them are finding it difficult to pay the fines to secure their release.
A visit to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (CMM) court on Monday revealed that most of the people arrested for violating rules of the ongoing strict lockdown and health guidelines belonged to low income groups.
According to the police and case documents, many of them were arrested for going out without any valid reasons and violating restrictions.
Apart from this, many of the arrestees were charged with obstructing public movement by occupying roadsides.
Court sources said at least 5,834 people were arrested in the capital from July 1 to July 25 on charges of breaching lockdown rules imposed by the government to curb the spread of Covid transmission in the country.
A total of 169 arrestees were produced before the courts of Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrates Shahinur Rahman and Diman Chandra Mandal on Monday. The court released them after fining them each Tk100 for breaching rules of the lockdown.
Most arrestees from low income group
Huge numbers of families of the arrestees are seen crowding the court premises every day for the release of their near and dear ones.
Some families, however, found that they could not even pay fines ranging from Tk100 to Tk500 for the release of their members. They also had no money to appoint lawyers for their arrested family members.
Some of them told Dhaka Tribune they had to borrow from their relatives and neighbors to pay fines to release their family members.
Rickshaw puller Mazedul, 35, who was arrested from Mogbazar area of the capital, said: “I had to come out to pull my rickshaw to ensure food for my family of five but police caught me for not wearing a mask.”
Md Liton, 20, who was arrested from Malibagh area, said: “I work at an internet service providing organization. Police arrested me on my way to work.”
Another arrestee named Md Salim, 35, said: “I’m a fish trader. Police arrested me along with several others while we were selling fish. Despite our not committing any crime, the police arrested us.”
Middlemen swindling family members
Family members who were waiting in the Dhaka CMM premises were also being swindled by agents or middlemen who promised legal assistance but did not deliver the service.
Some families were in a desperate search for lawyers to appear before the court to represent them.
Police sources, however, said they had earlier announced that people who were arrested for violating Covid restrictions did not need to hire anyone or communicate with any middlemen.
“The arrested can get released after paying the fines imposed on them by the court. There is no need for assistance from any other party,” said the police.
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Assistant public prosecutor Hemayet Uddin Khan said that there were some middlemen seizing the opportunity to swindle poor people, who were uninformed about legal proceedings in this regard.
Most arrestees were sued under the DMP Ordinance’s Sections 69, 77, 78 and 100. The court is handing down fines ranging from Tk100 to Tk500, depending on the offence.
DMP Ordinance Section 69 is for setting up shops by violating rules; Section 78 stipulates penalties for breach of discipline and causing offense while Section 77 provides for punishment for obstructing movement.
Meanwhile, executive magistrates are also enforcing Section 269 of the Penal Code against the violators of restrictions. The section says that whoever commits any act which is likely to spread infection from any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of up to six months.
Dhaka CMM Court Prison Officer in-Charge Shahidul Islam told Dhaka Tribune: “The arrestees got released by paying fines of Tk100 after they were produced in court.”