Poor badly hit by lockdown in Belagavi

March 24, 2020 08:17 pm | Updated 08:17 pm IST - Belagavi

A woman police constable stops vehicles near College Road during the lockdown in Belagavi on Tuesday.

A woman police constable stops vehicles near College Road during the lockdown in Belagavi on Tuesday.

Life was thrown out of gear across Belagavi district following the lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Authorities enforced the lockdown strictly and used some force to stop people from commuting on roads in some places. The police and city corporation officers evicted streetside vendors. This led to a complete shutdown of markets, industries and offices.

The police put up barricades on various important roads and stopped commuters from further venturing out. At some places, the personnel asked the people why they were leaving home and where were they going to. They asked them why they were not wearing masks.

At least in three places, police lathi-charged commuters. Police Commissioner Lokesh Kumar, however, denied this charge and said that the police may have used mild lathi-charge to disperse travellers who insisted on continuing their journey.

The State borders were sealed. The Public Works Department piled up mud mounds on the roads leading to towns in Maharashtra and Goa. No vehicles, public or private, were allowed to cross the borders.

Working class families suffered inconvenience. Balu Kishore, a bank employee who was stuck in Ranebennur, said that he had to suffer a lot to reach Belagavi where his wife resides. “I had to hitch rides on a milk van and a vegetable truck to reach the city. There was no public transport. Even private vehicles were not allowed to run. There were a lot of people left stranded on the roads,” he said.

The poor were the worst-hit by the complete lockdown enforced in Belagavi and surrounding areas. Stone-cutters who work in make-shift tents and sell their ware on the roadside were forced to go without work or food. A group of families from the Kallu Kutika-Waddar community was sitting on the footpath near the Koti Kere Road.

Hanikeppa, a community elder, told The Hindu that they had no work for three days and that there was almost nothing with them to eat. “We have some rice flour left. My wife is making porridge and feeding it to the children,” he said. They carve mortar and pestle from stone and sell them to passers-by. But they have not been able to work amid the lockdown.

However, some associations are helping the poor by feeding them. The coordination committee of Kannada associations provided biscuits, flour and rotis to the street vendors near the city bus stand.

Manpreet Singh Khanjua, a spokesperson for the Gurdwara Nanak Jhira in Bidar, said that most Gurdwaras in the State were offering langar mass lunch services. “However, the minimum safety and hygiene protocols are being followed,” he said.

Food for Needy, a Belagavi-based NGO, has offered to deliver food to the needy at public places such as bus stands and railway stations and in some other localities. NGO founder Surendra Shivajirao Angolkar said that those in need may call his office on Ph: 8618993767.

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