The panic-stricken people of Meghalaya came out in large numbers in different parts of the state violating the norms of nationwide lockdown to purchase essential items.
The announcement of a 21-day lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a preventive measure to contain the spread of coronavirus became a cause of panic for the residents of the state.
But Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said there is no reason for panic in buying as essential commodities would be made available across the state during the lockdown period.
Several panic-stricken residents in the Garo Hills region of Meghalaya were seen gathering in the market places to purchase essential commodities violating the lockdown norms.
Sources said the district headquarters in West Garo Hills (Tura), East Garo Hills (Williamnagar) and South Garo Hills (Baghmara) witnessed a large number of people thronging the market places and grocery shops without maintaining ‘social distancing’.
The people in Tura, Williamnagar, and Baghmara thronged the shops during the six-hour relaxation, announced by the district administrations to purchase essential items.
As soon as the markets were opened, chaotic scenes were witnessed and the villagers were seen violating all guidelines set by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, the lockdown was a success in Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya, where all shops and business establishments remained closed.
But a few people were seen violating the lockdown in the city.
A resident of Tura informed that they had no clue about the administration allowing the shops to open from 7 am.
He said most of the residents thought that the relaxation to buy essential items was for one time.
So, many of the residents came to purchase essential items as much as they could which created a chaotic scene, the citizen said.
Following the mad-rush in the district headquarter town of Tura town, the district magistrate of West Garo Hills, Ram Singh imposed curfew until further order in the district.
On Thursday, chief minister Conrad Sangma while sharing a video tweeted: “Social distancing done right at Shallang, a village in the West Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya.”
“No markings on the ground, no overcrowding, just responsible citizens adhering to rules,” he said.
“I encourage all our responsible citizens to follow suit,” the chief minister added.
The Meghalaya chief minister said: “The purpose of social distancing and lockdown will be defeated if people do not follow the directives of the government and district administration, who have been working tirelessly to ensure that essential items and services of the government is made available to the people.”
The chief minister informed that essential food items will be made available to the public by the administration in different localities.
He said: “The timing and other necessary logistics are being worked out by the respective administration in the district level.”
Overcrowding of people was also witnessed in North Garo Hills and the district administration had to move its teams to control the situation so that the lockdown norms are maintained.
North Garo Hills district magistrate SC Sadhu said: “There was crowding in a few places but people were urged to maintain distancing guidelines. Shop keepers had also marked spots to ensure the desired distance was maintained.”
The district magistrate of East Garo Hills, Swapnil Tembe, also informed that the confusion of whether shops would continue to remain open had driven the early surge but with the assistance of volunteers and policemen, the situation was controlled.