Police violence and stranded migrants mark India's coronavirus lockdown
BANGALORE - Few things can teach you obedience like going out to buy vegetables during a 'coronavirus lockdown', as we Indians are calling it now. Hoarding, long lines, and empty shelves seem like first world problems to us.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
CopyBANGALORE - Few things can teach you obedience like going out to buy vegetables during a"coronavirus lockdown", as we Indians are calling it now. Hoarding, long lines, and empty shelves seem like first-world problems to us.Most Indians today are afraid of cops stopping, chasing, beating, yelling, or punishing us for venturing out. We didn't know this until last Wednesday (March 25), the first day of a nationwide lockdown in India.
In Bangalore, I avoided the initial panic-stricken rush to supermarkets, and walked out at 7am on the third day, wearing the mask I had purchased for triple its usual price a week ago.A dozen people in my neighbourhood, most with masks or at least scarves and handkerchiefs across their faces, purchased milk, vegetables and fruit from vendors on the footpath.
It had just hit me that the prices had quadrupled, when a middle-aged man sliced the peak of a mountain of green chillies with his baton."Go home!" he barked in Kannada. He was in pyjamas and a shirt, but he wore his casual, unpredictable authority as only a policeman can.
More plain-clothed policemen lumbered around berating us like we were dealing in contraband goods. Suddenly, they shot like arrows into the market lane, swinging their batons wildly.Everyone scrambled. I speed-walked back home in silence, wilting cauliflower in hand, feeling like a criminal.
An aggressive virus has vanquished the most intrepid and restless of us.Rural India may be struggling the most under the lockdown, but apart from some videos shared on social media by smartphone-wielding villagers, much of the hinterland and its issues are invisible to us in the cities. In a country with great class and urban-rural cleavages, we are separated further by the crippling lockdown, and a disease whose rapid advance we can only curb by social distancing.
Paramilitary soldiers patrol a street in Goa on March 29, 2020. PHOTO: AFPFewer people seem to be leaving home with every passing day, but in India, every rule births an anarchist. Often, it is a young man on a loud motorbike, with a mask but no helmet, zipping around enjoying the empty roads. Every time I look out my window, there is one.
It is indeed harrowing to get India to stay indoors, but the police seem to have interpreted the lockdown in its severest form. Read more: The Straits Times »
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