‘We have not sold a Durga idol in 2 days’

Durga idols waiting for devotees in Ghaziabad.

Durga idols waiting for devotees in Ghaziabad.   | Photo Credit: Anuj Kumar

Artisans worry about future as customers stay away due to COVID-19 fears

Navaratri began on a sour note for the community of artisans who live along the road in Sahibabad, Ghaziabad. The Durga idols were the only bright spots on the deserted road on Wednesday. “We have not sold a single idol in the last two days,” Kavita said, adding: “Perhaps, people have lost faith in Her when they need Her the most.”

“We were expecting a low sales this year due to COVID-19 but this is unbelievable. We spend a month making the idols... now it seems all that effort and money will go to waste,” said Hansraj, one of the artisans. “We are ironsmiths who once made weapons for Maharana Pratap. Once he lost the Battle of Haldighati, we left Rajasthan,” Sachin Rajput said, adding: “We used to make 50-60 idols for Navratri, this year we made only 25 but we have not sold even one.”

‘No water supply’

“Nobody from the administration has come to take cognisance of our well being. The expect us to be hygienic but there is no water supply here,” said Manoj, standing outside one of the 25-odd slum-like structures.

In the neighbouring Shyam Park, a crowd surrounded a grocery shop despite the best efforts of the staff to maintain order. Many complained that flour was in short supply. The shopkeeper said the supplier was charging ₹30 extra per kg, something he would not agree to. “Somebody will complain about me to the police for overcharging,” he said. But one could see a side door opening and closing at regular intervals to cater to some patrons who were ready to pay extra. “What to do?” was the common refrain.

Circle Officer (Sahibabad) Rakesh Mishra told The Hindu, “In such an unprecedented situation, the police is expected to work with a combination of sensitivity and strictness. If we find a shop overcrowded, we will shut it down. But we will also ensure that essential supplies and vegetables are not stopped. People should also play their part by not indulging in panic buying.”

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:45:20 PM |

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