A day after miscreants allegedly incited violence in Padarayanapura on Sunday night, residents stayed indoors out of fear on Monday, while the police deployed around 500 personnel to maintain law and order.
The violence allegedly erupted after BBMP officials attempted to escort secondary contacts of a deceased COVID-19 patient into quarantine. Many residents blamed a break down in communication between the authorities and the residents for the violence.
“People were being taken to quarantine without any prior notice or proper information. At first, only primary contacts were to be taken, and then the rules changed to include secondary contacts. This naturally created confusion and fear among people, most of who are from lower socio-economic strata,” Saddam Baig, an advocate and a resident of Padarayanapura.
Padarayanapura, along with a neighbouring ward, Bapujinagar, had been sealed and barricaded ten days ago, after a spurt of COVID-19 positive cases were reported in the area. Syed Ahmed, another resident of Padarayanapura said “Many people demanded that they be taken to quarantine only in the presence of elected representatives or after informing them. That did not happen on Sunday,” said Syed Ahmed.
BBMP officials said the reason for shifting people into quarantine centres was made as the area was densely populated. BBMP commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said: “On Sunday evening, 22 people were shifted out of the ward for quarantine. At 6 p.m., the team returned to collect the second batch but some residents objected,” he said.
Health officials alerted the commissioner who asked them to return the next morning. “They left by 6.30 p.m. by when a crowd had gathered and tried to follow the health workers. But the workers left the ward. Around 7.30 p.m., when health workers were not at the spot, violence erupted,” said Mr. Kumar. On Monday, the remaining 36 contacts were taken to quarantine centres peacefully amid tight police security.
Chamarajpet MLA B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan said the BBMP officials had informed him that they would take people to quarantine on Sunday morning. “However, due to some problem, they could not come,” he said, adding that the team went to the ward in the evening without his knowledge. He took to Twitter to condemn the ruckus created by a few. “Since many in Padarayanapura are illiterate, they have resisted appearing for testing. Awareness should have been created... Since the authorities went there in the evening, people have panicked,” he said.
Residents of Padarayanapura told The Hindu that when the ward was being sealed the authorities had assured them that pushcarts would be deployed for the sale and supply of essential commodities. However, shortage and irregular supply of milk, vegetables and groceries still remained a problem. “When they sealed down the area, it is their responsibility to provide us with all basic amenities and it is the right of the people to to get them at their doorstep which has not been happening regularly,” said a resident of Padarayanapura.