CUTTACK: With no clarity on market operation timing during the 21-day lockdown period, citizens have alleged harassment by police while venturing out to get the essentials. The traders have also levelled similar allegations against police, accusing them of prohibiting their movement even for opening shops or taking stock for sale.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced total lockdown from Tuesday midnight, people came out to buy staples, vegetables and essential items on Wednesday morning. But to their dismay, majority of neighbourhood shops were closed. To add to their woes, the people looking for open shops and markets were stopped by police frequently and subjected to harassment.
Non-availability of vegetables and fruits in the locality, led to a rush at Chhatra Bazaar.With social distancing being mandatory to keep oneself safe from contracting coronavirus, some alert locals informed police who rushed to the spot and dispersed the crowd.
Further, no announcement by police and administration on the timing for opening shops has put people in a fix.”We don’t know when grocery shops, vegetable and milk outlets in the markets will remain open. While on our way to avail rations from market we are being quizzed and asked to show identity cards or passes,” said many denizens of the city raising questions on how would they convince police and what proof should they show.
Even small vegetable vendors from across the district and periphery who procure vegetables from Chhatra Bazar to sell those in their localities were being stopped and sent back in the absence of any proof of their purpose for coming out of their homes.
In another incident, a team of Nischintakoili police station reached a vegetable shop, abused and assaulted buyers for crowding the area. Police also allegedly threw away some vegetable baskets and asked the vendor to close shop by 6 pm as mandated by the State Government.
“We don’t know when to open and close our shop. If such type of police harassment continues, we will be compelled to close our shops completely during the lockdown period,” said Jaladhar Swain, a local vendor.