Shillong, Mar 26: A large number of panic-stricken residents in Garo Hills region in Meghalaya thronged the market to purchase essential commodities violating all guidelines to curb COVID-19 the 21 day nation-wide lockdown.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that there was no reason for panic buying as supply of essential commodities will be made available across the State during the 21-days lockdown period.
Tura, Williamnagar and Baghmara, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills among other places in Garo Hills witnessed scenes of pandemonium during the six hour relaxation provided by the district administration.
There was chaos when markets opened with the villagers violating all guidelines to adhere to prevent the spread of COVID – 19 in the village.
In Shillong, the lockdown was a success as all shops and business establishments remained closed but there are still some people violating the lockdown in the city.
“We did not really have a clue that the administration had allowed shops to open from 7 am or if it was a one-time thing. Most thought the allowance was only for one time and thus many came to buy as much as they could, leading to what happened,” a citizen from Tura said venting his anger.
Following the mad-rush, the District Magistrate of West Garo Hills, Ram Singh clamped curfew until further notice in the district.
“The purpose of social distancing and lockdown will be defeated if people do not follow the directives of the government and district administration, who have been working tirelessly to ensure that essential items and services of the Government is made available to the people,” the Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister informed that essential food items will be made available to the public by the administration in different localities. “The timing and other necessary logistics are being worked out by the respective administration in the district level,” he said.
Voicing concerns on the rush and overcrowding during the relaxation hours in certain markets of the State on Thursday, the Chief Minister appealed to the public to maintain social distance of 1 meter and follow directives of the administration.
“During the relaxation hours, there was panic. The intention of the relaxation was to enable public to buy essential food items.
However, the chaotic scene of overcrowding and rush is something which is not advisable and desirable. The Government is working for our safety, let us cooperate in this fight against Coronavirus,” Sangma said.
District magistrate of East Garo Hills Swapnil Tembe said the confusion of whether shops would continue to remain open had driven the early surge but with the assistance of volunteers and policemen, the situation was streamlined.
Initially, in North Garo Hills people were crowding in almost all places but the district administration rushed its teams to the spot and control was provided.
“There was crowding in a few places but people were urged to maintain distancing guidelines. Shop keepers had also marked spots to ensure the desired distance was maintained,” District magistrate S. C. Sadhu said.
Baghmara in SGH saw overcrowding prompting limitation of movement into the main market. Consumers were diverted to another open market in the vicinity of Bong Laskar Park.