West Bengal: Deserted roads, overcrowded markets mark lockdown Day 1

Commercial establishments, private and government offices, education institutions remained closed, public transport stayed off the roads and only essential services were operational.

The first day of the 15-day lockdown in West Bengal witnessed empty roads with policemen patrolling several areas to stop people from venturing out without an emergency.

Commercial establishments, private and government offices, education institutions remained closed, public transport stayed off the roads and only essential services were operational. Metro services in Kolkata too remained suspended.

Police officers were deployed across the city to intercept vehicles and check their papers before allowing them to proceed. They also spread awareness about lockdown norms using public announcement systems.

City markets, which were allowed to function from 7 am to 10 am, were busy with people buying groceries and vegetables flouting social distancing norms. Some shops opened beyond the 10 am deadline were shuttered with the police intervention.

Sukumar Saha, a fish vendor in Kakdip area of South 24 Parganas, said, “The government could have imposed a total shutdown on market places. This three-hour window is more of a hassle. Just when the business was at its peak, we were told to shut down.”

Sweet shops which adhered to the government guidlines remained open till 5 pm, but not many customers were seen there. “I and my colleague got late to work, as he had to take a detour and pick me up from home,” a junior doctor at a private hospital, off EM Bypass here, said. The West Bengal government on Saturday imposed a 15-day lockdown to curb the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, police detained several people in other parts of the state for violating lockdown restrictions. Some people were arrested as well.

Several religious places ban entry of devotees

Several prominent temples across Weste Bengal imposed a ban on entry of devotees from Sunday. Authorities of Dakshineswar Kali Temple in the city and Tarapith Kali Temple in Birbhum district have closed the places of worship for the devotees from Sunday because of thecomplete lockdown, imposed in the state from May 16-30.

“We have clamped a blanket ban on entry of devotees, which will be in force till May 30 as of now,” Kushal Choudhuri said on behalf of Dakshineswar temple authorities. The daily puja and other rituals will continue, as usual, he said. The Tarapith temple management, in a notice, said, due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the temple premises will be out of bounds for devotees from May 16-30. “We will review the situation periodically,” the management said. However, the rituals will continue sans devotees.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Mayapur, has shut down the Sri Chandradaya Mandir till May 30 for visitors and local devotees, ISKCON, Mayapur, spokesperson Subrata Das told PTI.

“Only a few resident devotees will be allowed, after thorough screening, for carrying out essential services like deity worship, offering ‘bhog’ and ‘aarti’. They will have to wear masks appropriately and maintain social distancing.

“Devotees all over the world are requested to follow the various programmes of the temple via online platforms,” Das said.

However, many small temples like the Kali temples in Shyambazar area of the city and Beltala area in Agarpara, and roadside shrines remained open.

All the 65 churches under the ‘Archdiocese of Calcutta’ order have stopped the entry of visitors due to the pandemic and lockdown, a spokesperson told PTI.

The general secretary of Gurdwara Behala and a prominent Sikh community leader in the city, Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, said, “We haven’t forbidden the entry of visitors inside the Gurdwara premises. But we are monitoring their entry and ensuring that they adhere to all COVID-19 safety norms.”

With inputs from PTI

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