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Coronavirus lockdown: In Assam, lathi charge, placards for people on streets; helpline to ensure essential services

Policemen can be seen chasing people on the roads away, often thrashing them with lathis and shouting that they should be in their homes during the 21-day lockdown period.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati | Updated: March 25, 2020 8:54:19 pm
coronavirus india lockdown, assam lockdown, coronavirus cases india, coronavirus news, lockdown news, latest news, indian express People are being asked to hold placards and say that they were “irresponsible fools” to have come out during the lockdown. (Source: Twitter/BiswanathPol)

Multiple videos showing policemen thrashing people on the streets during the lockdown in Assam emerged on Wednesday, even as the police justified the harsh measures, saying they are necessary for the safety of the state’s population against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In video footage broadcast by Assamese television channels, policemen can be seen chasing people on the roads away, often thrashing them with lathis and shouting that they should be in their homes during the 21-day lockdown period announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In some places, like Biswanath and Kaliabor, police also allegedly made youths kneel down, holding their ears. In Kaliabor, another video showed two men being asked to hold placards and say that they were “irresponsible fools” to have stepped out during the lockdown.

At a press conference, Assam DGP BJ Mahanta said that the police will take all measures possible to ensure a complete lockdown. He said that the police might have to resort to harsh measures sometimes — otherwise people in Assam were not taking the call for a lockdown seriously. He urged people to cooperate with the call.

Speaking with The Indian Express, Assam’s ADGP (L&O), GP Singh, said that the lockdown was “by the people, for the people and of the people.” “We have to keep the people of this state safe,” said Singh, “That is our commitment to the people of Assam. And for that we will have to do whatever it takes.” He, too, urged people to cooperate with the police.

Singh tweeted, “These are difficult times. I would once again request people not to venture out if not required on emergency grounds. Please don’t load the police on streets. Let them streamline essential services.”

Several grocery shops and pharmacies in Assam had circles and squares drawn at specific distances for customers, so that social distancing could be maintained.

Assam food and civil supplies minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury said that there was sufficient quantity of food grains and essential food items in stock for the state to sustain itself for 21 days. He explained the various steps taken by the state government to ensure that the supply chain of essential commodities is not affected during the lockdown.

Assam lockdown: Helpline to ensure essential services

Assam is setting up 24×7 control room and helpline to address people’s queries and solve their issues regarding emergency and essential services during the ongoing lockdown, an official press statement said.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday directed officials to “ensure uninterrupted supply of essential goods and services”, the statement said. At the control room staff would be employed in three shifts to receive calls from public and contact with respective departments and district administration to address their issues.

Sonowal has asked officials to issue e-pass to goods carriers so that the supply chain is not affected. Sonowal also directed to take steps to maintain supply of animal feeds uninterruptedly.

The chief minister urged traders’ bodies in the state to take adequate steps for control of prices so that common people do not have to suffer in the lockdown.

Assam is setting up 24×7 control room and helpline to address people’s queries and solve their issues regarding emergency and essential services during the ongoing lockdown,

He has asked police to take needful steps for ensuring smooth transportation of vegetables to Guwahati from nearby districts. “The Chief Minister said the State Government has taken all needful measures to ensure availability of essential commodities and services during the 21-day lockdown period in the State so that people of the State do not have to face any problem,” the official said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Assam food and civil supplies minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury said that there was enough quantity of food grains and essential food items in stock for the state to sustain for 21 days. He explained the various steps taken by the state government to ensure that the supply chain of essential commodities is not affected in the lockdown.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: Are smokers at high risk form coronavirus? | Can Vitamin-C prevent or cure coronavirus infection? | What exactly is community spread of coronavirus? | How long can the Covid-19 virus survive on a surface? | Amid the lockdown, what is allowed, what is prohibited?

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