Taking traders by surprise, the police in many parts of the State on Thursday afternoon went on a drive shutting down several shops and commercial establishments not dealing with essential services like food, medicine and fuel.
Many shopkeepers described it as an “undeclared lockdown” that will remain in force till May 4 that they did not anticipate.
Ambiguity in order
The ambiguity in the two sets of guidelines issued on Tuesday and Wednesday on COVID-19-related restrictions imposed on the State for the next two weeks had led to confusion. Traders interpreted them as a complete lockdown during weekends and that they allowed non-essential services to function during the weekdays till 9 p.m.
However, on Thursday afternoon, police enforced a virtual lockdown, closing all shops not dealing with essential services, catching traders off guard. Traders in Bengaluru, Hubballi-Dharwad, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Belagavi among other cities condemned the sudden change in policy causing chaos. They also rued that a two-week closure will impact trade already reeling under losses from the lockdown last year.
Meanwhile, police allegedly forcefully closed down some industrial units and their corporate offices, allowed to function normally as per the guidelines, drawing the ire of industry bodies.
The confusion in guidelines and the resultant chaos has led to some consternation in the government. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa was reportedly upset over the issue.
“There was no clarity in the guidelines issued on Tuesday night, promoting an addendum being issued on Wednesday. But that also was not interpreted properly and communicated to either the media or the public, leading to this confusion on Thursday,” said a senior government functionary.
Meanwhile, two former Chief Ministers, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy, condemned the government’s “fickle policy” and sudden enforcement that has led to harassment of people.