Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Benazir Ahmed has urged people trying to get to their hometowns before Eid-ul-Fitr – ignoring the government's travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 shutdown – to return.
He has also pledged assistance from police for those who return.
Benazir announced this during a press conference at Rajarbagh police auditorium in the capital on Tuesday.
"We have seen that people are trying in different ways to travel to their village homes, which has increased the risk of novel coronavirus infection," the IGP said, advising people to stay where they are.
Responding to the question of why police are not being stern about this, the IGP said, "The government is doing what is good for our people. There are many marginalised people. Considering all aspects, the government has to make the decision. To make people stay at home, several countries used force but we did not."
"We will get to enjoy many more Eids if we stay alive. This Eid is not going to be the last Eid of your life. You may be just a number in the death tally of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but you are the whole world to your family," he added.
The police chief said people are trying to cross rivers stealthily, putting their lives at risk, when ferry terminals have hoisted warning signal number three.
"Police will help them return to safety if required."
He asked people to take necessary precautions from home before attending Eid congregations and to keep them as short as possible.
This year, Eid prayers will be offered in mosques instead of Eidgah or open grounds, said Benazir.
He requested people to refrain from going on unnecessary shopping sprees and Eid outings. He said police are working round the clock to stop unnecessary movement.
The IGP said 23 districts were free from Covid-19 till the second week of April but when people increased their movement from one place to another, the virus spread across the country.
He urged people to stop travelling.
"We take necessary steps to make smooth Eid journeys every year. However, this year, police have been forced to take reverse steps."
The IGP said people cannot be kept at home by force. "They have to realise that life is theirs. So, they have to think about their safety."
"We cannot copy and paste a measure from other countries. Considering our culture and policy, we are taking steps to curb Covid-19," he added.
When asked about police arresting and harassing people for publishing information online, the IGP said, "Spreading rumours is a crime. If anyone takes a stand against the country by spreading misinformation, we will not tolerate it."
"People have no right to misguide people. Police will take action against them. We are monitoring the social media and are capable enough to keep watching," he added.
Cases rising among police force
The IGP said police have been taking risks in their work during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"We have observed that family members of a novel coronavirus victim might not agree to go near the dead body, but police usually do so. That is why police officials are becoming infected."
Benazir said safety measures have been taken for all members of the police force and treatment has been arranged for infected personnel.
"Not only field-level officials but high-ranking officials, such as superintendents, are also being infected," he said.