[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Mar 24: Many citizens of the state failed to adhere to the state government’s direction to observe a mere weeklong lockdown in the state in view of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
In the twin capital, the police were engaged since 7 am to keep a check on unnecessary plying of vehicles, and were seen requesting commuters to stay at home and put on masks.
While the traffic was comparatively lower than usual, many did not comply with the order and were out in large numbers since about 8 am. The numbers of people and vehicles kept increasing as the day progressed.
Security forces stationed near 0 Point Tinali in Itanagar informed that the number of vehicles increased after 4 pm despite people being instructed repeatedly since early morning to stay at home.
Persons with medical issues and office work, and those who had to shop for groceries were allowed to pass. With many people making excuses to pass through, the police started seeking medical prescriptions and identity cards by afternoon.
Some were seen making weak excuses, such as their children insisting on going out for a drive, or students claiming to go out to take study materials.
Capital SP Tumme Amo, who was monitoring the situation at various locations, appealed to the people to be “soldiers at home” to prevent the virus and not come out on the streets unless they had urgent work.
Almost all shops remained closed, except for a handful of grocery and medical stores. Vegetable and fruit vendors were also asked to close shop after large gatherings of people were seen.
Amo said the vegetable shops are allowed to open, but since they have to limit the number of customers to about 10 people, they were asked to close temporarily. He also said that the government should inform as to which departments are allowed to operate during the lockdown, so that the police may verify it.
On whether the people were cooperating, a policeman on duty late evening said, “A few of them are listening to our requests, but most of them are adamant, and one person even asked us to call Chief Minister Pema Khandu. Why should the chief minister have to come to explain things to them when it is for their own safety?” he said.
It was also observed that many police personnel on duty were not provided with masks, and some were using either bandanas or masks they bought on their own to cover their nose and mouth. They are also yet to be provided with hand sanitizers.
Newly recruited constable trainees of the Arunachal Pradesh Police have also been sent home from the training centres.
Daily wage earners, such as labourers, were seen working at some places, but they too said they would have no option but to halt work if required.
The Tempo and Trekker drivers raised apprehension as to how they would manage during the weeklong lockdown. Now with the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March, it is likely that they will have a difficult time ahead.
Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, responding to a query, said that the state currently has enough stock of food and fuel and would keep the supply chains open.
In Naharlagun and Doimukh, a few vehicles were seen plying on the road during the usual office hours in the morning.
During noon, the number of cars and two-wheelers increased, but by afternoon the roads were empty, barring a few vehicles. A small number of people came out only to buy essential items.
Police and paramilitary forces were monitoring the lockdown all the while, at times asking those without protective masks to put on one for their own safety.
All shops selling non-essential items were closed in Naharlagun, while grocery, fruit, vegetable, meat and fish shops and pharmacies remained open. However, the grocery shops in Doimukh were closed and only the pharmacies were open.
Following claims of rise in prices, the capital complex administration has issued phone numbers to place complaints. The numbers are 9436046730 and 8415921289.
The capital’s citizens can also report to the district administration regarding students who are back and are not on self-quarantine, violators of the lockdown order, hoarding of essential goods, and Covid-19 suspects at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Meanwhile, in West Siang HQ Aalo, movement of people came down drastically on Tuesday after the lockdown order announced by the state government.
A bare number of government and personal vehicles was seen plying on the streets. Disinfection of all the government offices is also being carried out.
A medical team led by Dr Biyom Potom visited the Hissam check gate to monitor the screening of inbound passengers. (With DIPRO input)
[ Nellie N Manpoong ]