The haphazard lockdown invited snags and pitfalls

Muslim fruits seller
Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

Uzair A. J. Naje

The Lockdown of present complexion & ambiance will have grave economic, social & psychological effects on fellow countrymen.

It was 8:00 PM on 24th March 2020 & the fellow countrymen were with remotes in hands sitting in front on their TV sets, it had put denizens in remembrance of 08th November 2016 probably worse therefrom. The Prime Minister of India has announced nationwide 21 days lockdown beginning from 25th March 2020 midnight &  ending on 14th April 2020 midnight declaring it to be more austere than of earlier Janata Curfew in view of present crisis amid COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding the Janata Curfew was intended to be self-imposed one but not lawfully enforced curfew.

India reported its first COVID +ve patient on 30th January 2020 but the indolent Government ignored the overwhelming caveats for a quick aggressive decision. Indian National Congress’ former president Mr. Rahul Gandhi intimated earlier to the Government for the upcoming health crisis but our Prime Minister might have been busy with welcoming USA president Mr. Donald Trump. Graphics have seen more hikes in Delhi & Mumbai and initially, Chief Minister of Maharashtra gradually & steadily imposed statewide lockdown. The state of Maharashtra enforced Sec. 144 Crpc earlier in MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan religion) region & then extended it to the whole state, later the state has enforced statewide curfew under Epidemic Disease Act 1897 & Sec. 144 Crpc till 30th March 2020.

Subsequently, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on 24th March 2020 at 8:00 PM & declared for a nationwide lockdown & curfew more aggressive than earlier Janata Curfew. It was unfortunate that his oratory had created much panic; there was nothing in his address with regards to the trade of essential commodities & relaxations to buy thereof. His aggressive gestures asking citizens “kuch bhi hojaye bahar nahi nikalna hai” created extreme panic in residents & resulted in more chaos with heavy buying rushes in the markets across the nation & the markets were like of Eid shopping markets as like it was a Chaand Raat. Later the unplanned lockdown got a nod for another lockdown 2.O & extended up to May 03rd, 2020 & now the Lockdown 3.O extended up to 17th May 2020 with the kind of de jure relaxations but de facto it is constant.

Earlier the Prime Minister had declared for a Janata Curfew on 22nd March 2020 & it was intended to be a self-imposed curfew but not a lawfully enforced one. No state had enforced any Curfew u/s 144 Crpc nor directed to the Police Departments to use any kind of force, despite thereof various places across the nation were reported with incidents of inhumane police brutality on the residents stepped out to buy kind of essential commodities. Later it becomes a harsh fashion of Police personnel across the country to use brutal force on individuals stepping out for bread & butter.

India becomes a second country after Africa in the matter of infringement of Human & Constitutional Rights. Police personnel is not privileged creatures & the law is equal for all; Police have a right to use minimal force after prior warning only in terms to disperse an unlawful assembly but to beat an individual barbarously is highly reprehensible & unacceptable, FIRs must get registered against the accused Cops. Meanwhile, Home Minister of Maharashtra in an interview to a Marathi news channel asked policemen unabashedly & unapologetically to polish lathis with Oil & use it on individuals stepping out, it has resulted in human rights crisis hence must be condemned unequivocally. Nevertheless, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Mr. Thackrey is doing well despite being of the first time in governance initially asked DGP Maharashtra for a soft approach with citizens but later ignored the overwhelming grievances with respect to police atrocities.

Reportedly, a youth in West Bengal has been beaten to death by a policeman as he was stepped out to buy milk for his baby child, similarly a Senior Citizens & an ambulance driver near Pune, Maharashtra have been beaten to death by police personnel. More cases of grave injuries & deaths due to brutal force by policemen unabashedly not only in Mumbai & suburbs but also across the nation have been reported during the month-long lockdown whilst the administration, bureaucracy & politicians are seems to be silent on this human & constitutional rights crises; Right to Life & personal liberty can’t be suspended even during an emergency.

Unfortunately, the unplanned lockdown got extended till May 03rd, 2020 & now extended till May 17th, 2020 with de jure relaxations but de facto with the same restrictions. Famish of stomach made thousands of laborers, daily wager & poorer for the exodus to their native places. The Union & States were seen only playing I Spy game with solacing the migrants but who will say to the administration that just consolations couldn’t satisfy their famish. Who will tell the ministers that the famished poorer, laborer & daily wager doesn’t have TV sets & internet to get your solace & consolations? On the contrary, Police were seen brutally beating the famished migrants with lathis, they must know that Corona can’t be beaten with Lathis & your sticks can’t satisfy their famished breadbasket. It was a complete fiasco of the present utterly & brazenly incompetent government. Industries are shut, shops are closed, businesses are inoperative & economy is locked, who will save the jobs & who will feed the poorer? The capacity of rich, middle class & NGOs to feed the famished poorer is falling down, the fair price shops are not fair enough & could the Gehun ki Roti only satisfy the hunger? Reportedly countrymen are facing psychological health problems & there is an increase in such patients during this month-long lockdown, even there are suggestions of some psychiatrists for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) patients not to listen to PM’s speeches on lockdown. The lockdown of present complexion & ambiance will have grave economic, social & psychological effect on countrymen, who will be held accountable thereto?

When embarrassments knocked the door of 7-RCR the central government now have decided & started the special trains for the exodus of poor migrants but unfortunately, the ticket fares are around Rs. 750, the poorest don’t have a single pony to meet their famish & thus wants to return their native places have to pay the ticket fairs, what an absurd decision. There is no word to applaud & admire the Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi for her decision that Congress will bear the cost & ticket fares of poor migrants for their exodus by special trains. Probably the ashamed Government will not make the special trains fare-free.

Declaring whole District a Containment Zone or a hotspot is indolence of the administration; the bureaucrats & governments must identify the Containment areas within the individual city & need to seal that particular area & needs to distinct hotspot between red, orange & green. Red hotspot areas within the city must be sealed strictly whilst there must be relaxations in orange & green hotspots. Consequently, there may be more convenient relaxations in contradiction to the present one. Anti-lockdown protests have been witnessed so far in US & ors, in view of that the Union of India must ensure that no such things should happen in exertion by considering of the very aspect to ease the lockdown and/or to end the lockdown.

To kick-start the economy without the economic hub of India i.e. Mumbai is a pointless & senseless decision won’t serve any purpose; somewhat relaxations in Mumbai will only kick-start the economy of the nation. All standalone shops, Construction works, Urban Industries & Offices must be opened & operative and regional places of the area within the city where no single patient exist needs to be reopened in MMR region too; excluding of MMR region is such an indolent & incompetent behavior of the State Government of Maharashtra.

Lockdown in the whole nation or state or District or a city is not a solution, search, test & seal of hotspot area or Containment area is the answer for resolution; more convenient relaxations, Ease the lockdown, End the lockdown.

Uzair A. J. Naje is a student from Kalyan, Dist. Thane, Maharashtra

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