As the first day of the lockdown in Panchkula began, it was chaos on the Chandigarh-Panchkula border on Monday.The day began with announcements requesting people to stay inside as a lockdown had been initiated by the government. The streets of the city, which were quiet on Sunday, were bustling again with traffic moving as usual. Even though all commercial and public transportation had been banned, autos and taxis moved on streets as if nothing had happened.
The checkposts put up by police proved of no use as people went through them easily without being questioned. The only one where a ruckus was created was on the Panchkula-Chandigarh border, under the entry gate of Panchkula where after a visit by the Deputy Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the police were seen stopping cars and even giving mild punishments. The long lines formed on the check post would only get shorter where all cars would be let through whenever a VIP caravan was spotted.
All the two-wheelers, even those who gave valid explanations were punished by the police on the border where they were asked to park their bikes at a side and hold banners saying ‘lockdown’ in their hands for several minutes.
Sushil Kumar, a man hailing from Zirakpur who worked at Manimajra, was on his way back home around 2 pm when he was stopped at the barricades. “I was stopped out of nowhere while everybody ahead of the VIP car was let through. I work at a pharmacy and after it was decided to shut down at half day, I was on my way home. Now they are harassing me and telling me to hold this poster as high as I can,” he said.
Another two-wheeler rider who was stopped, a manual labourer whose work was done at half day and was stooped said, “I agree we are at fault but what should we do? We need to earn and eat.” Raju though had another question, “Why are they not stopping the persons in cars but only on two-wheelers?”
Police clueless as to who falls under essential services
The police officers, posted from Police Post in Sector 7 and police station in Sector 5, seemed mostly clueless about what constitutes the essential services as food delivery boys were stopped time and again.
In an instance, a Swiggy delivery boy, Amit Kumar, who claimed he had picked up his order from Panchkula and had to deliver it at Manimajra was not let through. The police official kept insisting that all restaurants had been closed and thus he should have stayed at home. Amit was finally let through after a group of strangers passing through approached. “Many food delivery persons have gone on leave. Only those who could not afford a salary cut are working. There are many people who cannot cook. We need to deliver food to them. We had also read in a paper that we will be allowed but I don’t think it is true what the paper said,” he said.
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