Mizoram on Saturday cleared an ordinance seeking stringent punishment for those violating the lockdown, which began on March 25 to check the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus and was extended for a second time by the central government on Friday.
The state cabinet on Saturday held a crucial meeting chaired by Chief Minister Zoramthanga that approved ''The Ordinance for Containment and Prevention of COVID-19'' that seeks stringent punishment for those violating lockdown and creating public nuisance; it was tabled by Health Minister Dr R Lalthangliana, sources.
The Cabinet also decided that the state government will make arrangements to facilitate the return of Mizoram residents stranded in other parts of the country through trains as permitted by the Centre, sources added.
The Cabinet's approval of the ordinance comes a week after eight teenagers were beaten up by members of a local COVID-19 task force for defying the lockdown orders.
Indian Medical Association and the Mizoram Government Doctors' Association had earlier expressed concern over the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country and stressed upon the need to extend the lockdown to control the spread of the disease. Two associations had submitted their views to the Mizoram Health Minister.
Earlier, Chief Minister Zoramthanga had said that his government would follow the decision of the centre government on coronavirus lockdown. He said that Mizoram is located in a vulnerable area as it shares border with Assam, Manipur and Tripura, and also a 722-km unfenced international boundary with Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Though doctors in Mizoram had called for a one-month extension of the lockdown, the Cabinet decided to implement the extension till May 17 as directed by the Centre.
Meanwhile, the state Police have stepped up vigil on the borders. Reports said that more than 2,500 policemen are maintaining round-the-clock vigil to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
Fifteen senior officers have been reportedly tasked with contact tracing and a total of 1,776 policemen have been deployed in 182 duty posts across the State to maintain law and order.