Monday, 30th October 2017

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Assam mostly ‘home’ on Day 2 of lockdown

Separation spots in front of shops

By Rokibuz Zaman in Guwahati
  • Published 27.03.20, 12:12 AM
  • Updated 27.03.20, 12:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
Shoppers stand in marked spots outside a grocery store in Guwahati on Thursday to maintain social distance. (AP)

Assam “stayed” at home, mostly, on the second day of the nationwide lockdown, as Dispur stepped up efforts to check the spread of Covid-19.

There were comparatively fewer people on the streets and almost nobody by the evening since Wednesday.

The police crackdown on those violating safety norms without valid reason and growing awareness about the novel coronavirus contributed to ensuring the stay-at-home rule during the lockdown, unless absolutely necessary.

No positive Covid-19 case has been detected in Assam so far.

The day saw the state administration fix timings for opening of retail (8am to 7pm) and wholesale grocery shops (8am to 4pm) to streamline the distribution process and remove confusion.

Arrangements were also made for curfew passes so that those out to fetch essential items or attending to exigencies do not face police action. The police and civil administration helped shopowners across the state to mark spots for customers to maintain social distancing.

However, a grocery shop owner, who was unaware of the order, said, “How many times will they change the order? People have been beaten and shamed.”

The police had to wield the baton in many parts of the state to enforce rules as some people ventured out “without” any valid reason. It acted tough against violators at Jonai, Gohpur, Baithalangso, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup (metro), Kaziranga National Park and other places across Assam.

In Nalbari, hawker Ganesh Deka was allegedly beaten up by the police while distributing newspapers, an act condemned by Nalbari Press Club.

Guwahati police commissioner Munna Prasad Gupta, however, said nobody was beaten up for carrying or buying essential commodities. “People have been asked to stay at home and stop roaming around unnecessarily. They are asked to avoid gatherings. Only in case of emergency or for buying essential commodities, one can come out while maintaining social distance,” the top cop said.

Allegations of police highhandedness was raised by several quarters, including leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia. “Unfortunately, many personnel of Assam police are displaying a tendency to beat up and/or humiliate civilians first, and ask questions later,” he said in a letter to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

“Let’s break the Chain, maintain Social Distancing — An effort by Guwahati Police Commissionerate, @mygovassam @CMOfficeAssam @sarbanandsonwa @DGPAssamPolice @himantabiswa @assampolice,” Guwahati police tweeted.

In another tweet, it said vendors are selling vegetables at the Guwahati Municipal Corporation market by maintaining social distancing to “Break the Chain of Corona Virus”.

Amid the crackdown to ensure the lockdown, Nalbari deputy commissioner Bharat Bhushan Dev Choudhury organised a sanitisation programme for the people of sar (sandbar) areas.

Actor Adil Hussain, who hails from Assam, said it was a testing time. “Felt like sharing a few things in this difficult times. Lock down for 21 days. Let’s follow the guidelines strictly and find a way to be at peace. Tough one, but we can do it. #CoronavirusPandemic,” he tweeted with a video message.

Elsewhere in Udalguri, residents complained of facing inconvenience in getting essential items alleging there was not enough supply of food and vegetables at local shops and markets.

The effect of the lockdown was completely visible in most parts of the lower Assam district with mostly deserted roads and people going out only to buy essential items like LPG cylinders, medicines and grocery items.

“People in most places of the district are by and large staying indoors and adhering to the lockdown and that is a good sign for everyone,” said a police officer.

Deputy commissioners reviewed the stock position of essential items, something which has to be maintained and supplied smoothly during the lockdown to prevent any type of chaos and inconvenience, sources said.

A Russian couple, lodged in a hotel at Paltan Bazar, was sent to quarantine by city police on Thursday. Police said the couple, on an Assam tour, got stuck here after the announcement of the lockdown and have been sent for medical check-up.

Additional reporting by Shajid Khan in Udalguri and Rinoy Basumatary in Kokrajhar