Four roads from different directions can take you to Hawas, a small village in Ludhiana with a population of just around 1,200 and a few NRIs who are back home these days.
But with the COVID-19 outbreak and curfew imposed in Punjab, it is nearly impossible to enter this village, if one is an outsider or even if one has a friend or a relative living there. While on the main road leading to the village, barricades have been put up with youths keeping a vigil, on two other roads iron angles have been put as barricades. On the fourth road, trolleys have been parked as barricades, restricting entry of outsiders.
This is the villagers’ way of going into self-quarantine to protect themselves from novel coronavirus.
The step, according to sarpanch’s husband, has been taken as the ‘last resort’ after people failed to abide by lockdown/curfew instructions and kept flocking village despite being told not to do so. “Lokan nu lag reha hai ethhe koi party chal rahi hai. Bina matlab hi edhar udhar aai jaare ne saade pind curfew vich vi (People think it is a party going on. They are visiting our village despite curfew and without any work). We were left with no other option but to put up barricades on all roads leading to our village. Some NRIs in the village who returned have self-quarantined themselves in homes but outsiders had been flocking to meet their relatives and friends. They are not even taking curfew seriously because till now they do not know the repercussion of this virus,” says Soni Grewal, husband of village’s sarpanch.
Grewal says that though initially, some people in the village objected to barricading, they were counselled and told that this wasn’t the right time to “welcome guests for lunches or dinners”.
“With a curfew in place, some people thought it was vacation time and started flocking our village to meet relatives and friends. But we cannot put life of others at risk because of some people. We have turned back many people who wanted to enter village to meet relatives or friends. Social distancing is a far fetched concept here,” said Grewal.
He said that for village’s main road, they borrowed barricades from police. “Police appreciated that we were trying to protect our village. Now youths, with protective masks on, keep vigil. Outsiders won’t be allowed at least till March 31,” said Grewal.
Tajinder Singh, a villager, said that they have also arranged a fogging machine to disinfect the village while hand sanitisers are being provided to all residents. “Most of them still don’t know how contagious this virus is. This isn’t the time for us to show Punjabi hospitality,” he said.
The village has already put up a system to deliver groceries and medicines at the doorstep.
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