BENGALURU: Chaotic scenes were witnessed outside an Air Force canteen on HAL Airport Road in the city where over 100 current and former servicemen and their families gathered for hours to buy subsidised provisions and liquor. Poor arrangements and crowding apparently led to the situation.
They were made to wait outside the closed gates and social distancing went for a toss, although many of them were wearing masks. Vehicles parked on the road outside the Air Force 26 Equipment Depot also impacted traffic flow.
Requesting anonymity, a former serviceman who had come with his daughter to buy provisions, said, “There should be some kind of system in place. See how chaotic everything is. It is 11.30 am now and a few have been here since 8.30 am.” The wife of an Air Force official said, “We came here just to buy provisions. Did not expect this rush.” A few senior citizens were spotted jostling for space in the crowd. Many of them had come to buy subsidised liquor.
An army man said, “Each defence staffer is allowed four or five bottles of liquor a month. It reached the depot today after two months due to lockdown. Hence the mad rush.” Anger erupted after some time and many started demanding to be let in. An army man, speaking on a portable loudspeaker, appealed to them to remain calm. “Due to the need to maintain distancing, we are permitting only five people at a time. We will extend the time till 6 pm. All will be given tokens and ... all will be served,” he said. Asked about the chaos, a defence spokesperson said, “There was some confusion. We had issued norms for distancing and issued slots for veterans and other categories. But people chose to just come over.”