FROM STAMPING the hands of people coming from Mumbai and Pune to barricading entry points, villages across the state have devised various measures amid fear, concern and rumours over coronavirus.
At Umra Bhise village in Buldhana, three daily-wage workers traveling from Pune were not allowed entry late Thursday night by villagers fearing they were carrying the virus. With nowhere to go, the workers subsequently found shelter in a village over 5 km away for the night.
“We intervened and the three men were given shelter for the night in a separate space even as our own villagers were apprehensive. On Friday, health department officials conducted check-ups and since they had no symptoms, no tests were recommended. But, they were asked to remain in quarantine for 14 days. We counselled villagers and they were allowed entry into their village, with the condition that they do not venture out of their homes for the next 14 days,” said police patil Shakil Deshmukh of Atali village in Buldhana. Police patils or civilian police representatives, village sarpanch as well as ASHA workers are among those that the police and district authorities are relying on to allay fears among locals. Deshmukh said the fear among people against those coming from Mumbai and Pune is due to the high number of cases detected in the cities.
“With the police and health officials having to cover large areas in villages, not even one official can be deputed to each village. The responsibility of adhering to self-quarantine is with the people themselves but many are seen flouting it even if they are stamped,” Deshmukh said, adding they are coordinating with local authorities to ensure those asked to remain in quarantine do not access common areas of the villages, like the market.
Many villages, however, have taken upon themselves to ensure their safety by barricading entry points with stones, trees or bamboos. “We have given an advisory to the sarpanch and police patils of the villages that action will be taken if any person from the village is not being allowed to enter by creating such obstructions,” said Anil Paraskar, Raigad superintendent, adding that since the district is adjoining Mumbai and Thane, many from the villages have migrated to cities for work and are now returning.
Those who returned before the shutdown too, zilla parishad members were tasked with going from home to home, to take down the details like their names, travel history and contact numbers. They have also been advised to remain at home for 14 days. In Alibaug, a coastal town, usually frequented by many from Mumbai, as a tourist destination or with holiday homes, civic officials have been making announcements on loudspeakers regarding alerting authorities of a new entrant. Due to this, any person seeming to not be from the smaller villages are approached by locals for details.
“Due to the exodus of people from Mumbai and Pune to the villages, there were concerns raised to district administration. There has been no visible aggressive stance taken by them but through our authorities including ASHA workers, sarpanchs, we are conducting health check-ups regularly in villages,” said Sindhudurg district collector K Manjulaxmi.
“We have issued warning against anyone being ostracised by villages… There is a bar on unnecessary movement by villages which is a welcome move but strict action will be taken against anyone ostracising those returning to the villages or those involved in the manufacture or transport of essential commodities,” said Arti Singh, Superintendent of Nashik (rural).
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