Confusion over lockdown relaxation in Manipur

Correspondent IMPHAL, APR 22 (NPN) | Publish Date: 4/22/2020 9:57:13 AM IST

“Who said farmers were free to move? Do you have curfew pass? Show me. Otherwise you have to be panelised,” a policeman on duty asked a farmer who came to buy farm equipments in Imphal on Wednesday.

Ibobi, a farmer from Nachou village of Bishnupur district, who came all the way to collect tractor accessories and farm equipment from a dealer in Imphal on a hired van was stunted by this volley of questions.

He had ordered accessories and farm equipments more than a month ago but could not collect them due to the sudden imposition of the lockdown to check spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Ibobi said he came to collect the items on learning that agriculture related activities have been relaxed from the purview of the lockdown and the dealer informed him that he can collect the items from his godown in Imphal’s Mantripukhri.

However, he was confused by the series of questions raised by the policeman.

It was only after the intervention by this correspondent who briefed the policeman through the officer on duty, that the policeman freed the farmer. 

Agricultural and related activities were among 15 sectors Manipur government relaxed from the purview of the lockdown. 

The order issued by state home department issued on April 20 on relaxation to 15 sectors stated that agricultural and related activities like farming operations by farmers and farm workers in field in rural areas.

It added that agencies engaged in procurement of agricultural produce including farmer producers companies are also relaxed from the lockdown.

 Ibobi was not the only individual who faced such situation when he came out to buy essential items caused due to lack of briefing to police personnel on duty regarding the lockdown relaxation. 

When government declared relaxation to 15 sectors, it was announced that local based retails shops dealing with essential commodities like groceries for daily use, vegetables, fruits, poultry meat and fish will be opened from 6 am to 2 pm on all days except Sundays.

Even though shops were opened following the announcement, people were reluctant to come out and buy goods as there was no relaxation on public curfew which has been in force in the state since March 24, 8 am.

Whenever people came out of their houses, police personnel on duty would enquire on their purpose of work and to produce curfew pass.

Those who could not produce the curfew pass were detained by the  police for coming out without any specific purpose.

The state police have been strictly enforcing curfew , which according to government, was necessitated for stringent implementation of lockdown  since March 24, the day first phase of the nationwide lockdown commenced.

In its continuing crackdown, a total of 738 violators were detained along with 484 vehicles. They were produced before the concern magistrates and a fine of Rs 74,820 was imposed, a press note of the additional DGP (L/O) L Kailun stated. The police crackdown also included those not wearing face masks in public which the state home department has ordered to prevent spread of COVID-19. So far, there are no reports of community transmission of corona virus in the state even though the state has recorded two positive cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the two patients had also been discharged from the hospitals they were treated after they recovered  from the disease.

The first COVID-patient was discharged in the first week of April  while the second one was discharged on Tuesday after his latest swab sample tested negative.

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