Early morning on April 15 — day one of the extension of the national lockdown — a construction worker from Ahmedabad, Vijay Rathod (40) kick-started his motorcycle to begin his journey back home, from Vatrakgarh village of Aravalli to Chandlodia area of Ahmedabad..
Rathod was stuck at his in-laws’ residence at Vatrakgarh — almost 80 kilometres from Ahmedabad — for the past 21 days in the first phase of the lockdown. He claimed that he had read in the paper and on WhatsApp that the lockdown was to end by April 14. He had no ‘balance’ on his phone to call his parents back home, nor did he have a data plan to look up news, he said. On April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the nation and announced an extension of the national lockdown till May 3.
Completely oblivious to the happenings in the country, Rathod set off for his residence and around 9 am, he was apprehended by a group of policemen at Tapovan circle. When asked why he was out on his bike, Rathod said that since the lockdown is over, he had left his in-laws’ house to go back to Ahmedabad.
The cops arrested Rathod on the spot and he was brought to Chandkheda police station for violation of lockdown orders. He was booked under IPC section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and under sections of the Disaster Management Act. It was only later that night that he was granted bail and was able to return home after the harrowing experience.
“I tried explaining to the policemen that I had no idea that the lockdown had been extended. They told me that I was making excuses to simply ride my bike for cheap thrills. I also told them that I had no balance on my phone to call my parents or a data plan to look for news….I was arrested anyway,” Rathod told The Indian Express.
Once back at his residence, Rathod was finally able to meet his ailing parents. “I somehow managed to stay at my in-laws place for 21 days but on April 15, I decided that I have to reach my residence in Ahmedabad and check on my father, who needs constant supervision. I decided to let my wife stay at her village and came back,” said Rathod.
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