West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar triggered a fresh controversy on Wednesday by suggesting the state government should look at calling in Central paramilitary forces to enforce the Covid-19-related lockdown.
"Lockdown protocol has to be thoroughly implemented to ward off #coronavirus. Police and administration @MamataOfficial failing to effect 100% #SocialDistancing or curbing religious congregations be shown door. Lockdown must succeed-examine central para forces requisitioning!" he tweeted.
His tweet came in the wake of Kolkata Police and West Bengal Police taking additional steps to prevent crowds as people venture out of their homes to buy essential supplies.
Drones are being used across the state to trace crowds and identify people violating the nationwide lockdown that has been extended till May 3. Police are also using loudspeakers to urge people to stay indoors.
A senior official of West Bengal Police, who didn't wish to be named, said: "Over the past few days, as many as 1,174 markets have been relocated to spacious areas nearby so that social distancing is maintained in markets, while the area of 963 markets has been expanded.
"There still are 256 markets that remain crowded. The administration is looking for suitable alternative places nearby."
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has often clashed with the governor, has repeatedly said she wants "a strict lockdown with a humane face".
The state's ruling Trinamool Congress party criticised the governor but said it would rather ignore him.
"The governor has no other work but to try and disturb the state government. The Mamata Banerjee administration is completely preoccupied with responding to the unprecedented situation over the novel Coronavirus and has no time to respond to someone behaving like a Bharatiya Janata Party worker," said Trinamool spokesperson Snehasish Chakraborty.
In a separate development, the BJP MP from Alipurduar, John Barla, has written to Union home minister Amit Shah, alleging the state administration has put him under "house arrest".
"I was out to supervise relief work and supply essentials to the needy but the police seized all items and told me I was supposed to stay home because the lockdown also applied to me," Barla said.