KARACHI: After an uproar over the arrest of over 30 people for failing to provide proof of their Covid-19 vaccination, Karachi police chief Imran Yaqoob Minhas on Saturday stopped the police from conducting ‘random’ checking, demanding vaccination certificates from passers-by and arresting them in case of not having one.
The city police chief directed the police to check vaccination cards at restaurants, eateries, marriage halls and other places where social gatherings were being taken place.
He clarified that FIRs should be registered against the owners and administration of these establishments over violation of the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).
Karachi police spokesperson Shazia Jahan said that the city police chief had directed the police to follow guidelines issued by the provincial government pertaining to checking of vaccination certificates at certain establishments like restaurants/dining places, marriage halls etc.
Proof of vaccination can be checked at eateries, marriage halls
On Friday, the police launched a drive against unvaccinated persons and detained 33 persons and registered 18 cases against them.
The extreme measure taken by the police triggered strong reaction from their relatives as well as certain political parties.
The police had claimed that they took this action following an order issued by home department and reservations expressed by the Sindh chief secretary for not taking action against unvaccinated persons.
Market bodies told to ensure vaccination
On Saturday, the police visited shops and markets and asked their management to get themselves and their workers vaccinated.
However, their visit sparked a reaction from traders’ bodies, as Atiq Mir, the chief of All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) told Dawn that they were concerned over such action.
He said so far, he got not report regarding of arrest or punitive action against markets or shops.
He said checking of vaccination certificates of passengers and workers of certain establishments was fine, but it was not wise to detain people on roads and streets for not producing the vaccination certificate.
Mr Mir appreciated the notice taken by the city police chief over the arrests of passers-by.
A senior police officer, who wished not to be named, said that the police chief had asked his subordinates to ‘properly understand’ the Sindh government notification and avoid ‘random’ checking and detentions over proof of vaccination.
Police responsible for SOP implementation
Additional Inspector General Minhas also issued directions to the police not to arrest passers-by over lack of vaccination certificates as it was not the responsibility of the police.
He told them that the responsibility of the police was to ensure implementation of SOPs.
Meanwhile, SSP-West Suhai Aziz said in a statement that the police in district West were strictly implementing safety guidelines issued by the Sindh government.
“In the light of orders issued by the provincial government, district West police have started checking of vaccination cards in markets, shops, marriage halls and other public places,” it said, adding that shopkeepers and markets administrations had been asked to keep their vaccination cards with them.
The SSP told Dawn the police in Orangi Town started “checking cards of shopkeepers along with members of market association”.
“Those without cards have been advised to get vaccinated, they have also been informed that legal action would be taken in case of non-compliance,” she said.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021