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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Lockdown diary, Day 31: Yamraj chases lockdown violators on Kolkata streets, help pours in for Delhi sex workers and more

An Aizawl locality turns new page with doorstep delivery of books while an App takes people on virtual tour of Kolkata zoo. Here is a curated list of some striking stories from across the country on Day 31

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 25, 2020 2:21:46 pm
Wielding a mace, the Yamraj went after those who came without wearing a mask in Kolkata’s Bonhooghly area.

As India entered Day 31 of the 40-day nationwide lockdown to arrest the spread of coronavirus, the country recorded highest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases with 1,752 more people testing positive for the virus. The tally of positive cases stood at 23,452 and deaths at 723. As many as 17,915 COVID-19 cases are active while at least 4,814 people have recovered so far.

In its routine press conference, the Health Ministry Friday said no new cases were reported from 15 districts in the last 28 days. The recovery rate now is over 20 per cent, it added. Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul said going by the projections, the number of cases in India would have crossed 1 lakh by now but the lockdown has restricted that to around 23,000. “Effects will show till the first or second week of May,” he added.

Here is a curated list of some striking stories from across the country on Day 31

Lockdown library: Aizawl locality turns new page with doorstep delivery of books

On April 18, NGO Young Mizo Association in Mizoram’s Aizawl, started an initiative called the Kawtkai Library (‘kawtkai’ translates to doorstep in Mizo) which brings people a book of their choice at their doorstep. “Every locality has a library in Mizoram,” said B. Lalmalsawma of the YMA, “Ramhlun South, our locality, does too. We realised that people are bored during the lockdown, and what better way to utilise time than reading?”

The process works exactly how a physical library would. “Except you don’t need to go to the library,” said Lalmalsawma. The team clicks pictures of the books, divides them into categories such as biography, Christian literature, English fiction, Mizo novels etc, and posts it to the locality WhatsApp groups. “Anyone interested can pick their choice, and messages us with their name and house number.”

In Mizoram’s Aizawl, a locality is beating the lockdown blues with a door-to-door book delivery service

Yamraj chases lockdown violators on Kolkata streets

People who defied the lockdown in the Kolkata’s Bonhooghly area on Friday were literally chased by a Yamraj, the God of Death. Wielding a mace, the Yamraj went after everyone who came without wearing a mask. Once the people stopped after the run, masks were handed over. They were also apprised about how they are endangering their lives by not abiding by the lockdown guidelines.

Twenty-three-year-old Abhijit Sadukhan in Yamraj’s attire said he was enjoying his role. The act was the part of a campaign, organised by a local club Bonhooghly GCGS Yubak Sangh, and was aimed at generating awareness among the people, he added. The Yamraj also had a customised vehicle (chariot ) and an assistant, a man dressed as Chitragupta. “With this makeup and the mace, some people are actually getting scared. The idea is to send out the message that people are playing with death by violating the lockdown,” Sadukhan said.

Earlier too, another man dressed as Yamraj had roamed the streets of Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh, reminding people of the perils of stepping out of their homes during the coronavirus outbreak.

In Mumbai, buses turn ambulances to ferry COVID-19 suspects

As Mumbai grapples with the rising number of coronavirus cases, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has converted seven of its AC mini-buses into ambulances which are all set to to ferry suspected coronavirus patients, or those with only mild infection, to COVID-19 Care Centres, a senior official said Friday.

Seats were removed and an air-tight partition was put in each of buses to separate the driver’s cabin from the rest of the vehicle at the BEST’s workshop. “We have been asked to provide 20 more such buses- turned-ambulances,” said Surendrakumar Bagde, general manager of BEST.

Kolkata Police officials operate a drone at Rajabazar, one of the hotspots, to track lockdown violators.

Virtual Kolkata zoo tour for people at home during lockdown

In an effort to keep them at home during the lockdown, the West Bengal forest department has launched an app to take people on a virtual tour of the Alipore zoo, an official said Friday. Launched by state forest minister Rajib Banerjee on Thursday, the app shows videos of various animals lodged in the zoo. Various moods of reptiles, mammals and birds, are captured through the videos, he said.

People can get a “360 degree view of the Alipore Zoological Garden by following a direction to different enclosures” of the zoo, the official said. The zoo has remained shut since March 17 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. (PTI)

Help coming for sex workers in Delhi, reaching out to each of them major challenge

Organisations have come forward offering help to sex workers’s community in Delhi who are struggling to survive the lockdown. Some of them received raw ration, sanitisers, sanitary requirements, soaps and medicines in the past fortnight but now with the lockdown extended, they need more help.

Also, it has not been easy to reach each of them as they live in multi-storeyed cramped quarters on Garstin Bastion Road (now known as Swami Shradhanand Marg). There are around 100 brothels from where over 1,500 sex workers operate. “They are so scared of cameras that they generally don’t come out when organisations come with camerapersons to offer help. Sometimes they don’t even get to know that something is being distributed,” news agency PTI quoted Iqbal Ahmed, Delhi Unit Secretary of Bhartiya Patita Udhar Sabha, an organisation working for these women for the last four decades. (PTI)

Chandigarh MC workers paint message of staying home on roads. (Express Photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

70 labourers abandon plan to leave Delhi after police help

Around 70 labourers who had planned to leave Delhi amid the lockdown were convinced by the police to stay back. The police also arranged for their meals and assured them of further help, officials said on Friday.

The police had received information that around 70 daily wagers, who were staying in rented accommodations at the Gujar Chowk area of South Delhi’s Sangam Vihar, were planning to leave for their native places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

“Assistant Sub-Inspector Devraj and constable Chetan were sent there and the workers were convinced to stay put. But the workers said they were not being served food as they did not have plates,” news agency PTI quoted Atul Kumar Thakur, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) as saying.

Workers take a van to commute during lockdown.

Plates were procured by ASI Devraj for all and they were provided meals. The landlords too were asked to not ask for rent from them, he said. The labourers were given phone numbers of police officers for them to call in case of any emergency, he added. (PTI)

8-year-old boy gives his piggy bank savings to feed poor kids in Punjab

An eight-year-old boy in Punjab gave up the entire amount of money he saved in a piggy bank to provide relief to the poor affected by the ongoing lockdown. Preetinder Singh handed over Rs 7,500 to the Bathinda SSP. “I gave my piggy bank to him (SSP) so that poor children get food,” Preetinder said. “I want to thank this small kid for contributing his money so that poor people who do not have meals can be fed. By doing so, he gave us a message that one should use one’s savings to serve people,” SSP Nanak Singh said. (PTI)

Khammam in Telangana a home away from home for stranded migrant workers

Screening of hit Bollywood and other movies, video calling facilities to reach out to their families, besides food and shelter arranged by the officials for stranded migrant workers have made Telangana’s Khammam a home away from home for them during the ongoing COVID-19 lockout.

While migrant workers elsewhere have taken to the road attempting to return home on foot, around 650 lodged in eight relief camps in this district, about 200 km from state’s capital Hyderabad and bordering Andhra Pradesh, have been kept in good humour by the district administration. (PTI)

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