The day 1 of lockdown in Karnataka was chaotic, as cops used force to implement the ‘military-like regulations’, inviting protests from all quarters of the society.
As per the regulations framed by a high-power committee headed Chief Secretary P Ravikumar, people cannot ply vehicles during the lockdown. To implement the rule, police stopped people, wielded the ‘lathi’ and abused them and even seized their vehicles at several places. Hapless citizens had no choice but to walk long distances to buy essentials. This mindless order caused extreme hardships to those who had no supplies nearby – especially in villages.
People openly criticized the high-handed approach of the authorities and compared this lockdown to the last year’s when then Chief Secretary TM Vijayabhaskar, DGP Praveen Sood and Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao were in-charge. They said the way lockdown was implemented last year was humane and considerate of people’s problems and their limitations. Sood is still the DGP, but has not responded to harsh and indifferent approach of his subordinate force this time.
The worst affected were people living in hilly and sparsely-populated regions, where they have to travel as far as 10 to 15kms to buy even basic things like a matchbox.
People weren’t amused by the police’s mindless execution of rules framed by Chief Secretary P Ravikumar and his high-power committee which is causing inconvenience to everyone.
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“I am an asthma patient. I have to buy medicines. I am currently at my village. The nearest town is 15 kilometres away. Police say I can’t use my car. How can I walk 30 kilometres to buy lifesaving drugs? Has the government lost all senses?” Sridhar, a 62-year-old farmer from Hosanagara taluk in Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa’s home district of Shimoga, told News18.
IT professionals, who adopted ‘work from home’ model and went back to the small villages they hail from as COVID cases rose, bore the brunt of police’s brutal rule the most. Many of them come from tiny places that do not have stable internet connections, so they have to drive every day to the nearest town where they can sit and work through the day. Police, however, stopped them from going to work, citing lockdown regulations.
“Hundreds of tech professionals need to go to a small town to access internet. But police stopped us, abused us. Some of us were told to quit our jobs. I don’t understand why are the police treating us so badly?” said Parab, who works for an IT firm in Bengaluru.
Police did not spare the farmers either who were going to their fields to prepare for the upcoming kharif season or going to markets to sell vegetables and fruits.
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There were voices of dissent from within the ruling establishment as well. BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi said the state government should allow use of vehicles immediately. Former chief minister and JDS chief HD Kumaraswamy too demanded relaxations.
It is said that Chief Secretary P Ravikumar and the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister EV Ramana Reddy are too rigid and are mainly responsible for the chaos all over Karnataka right now. “When the CM BS Yeddyurappa ordered them to relax rules, they vehemently opposed it”, an official in the Chief Minister’s Office said, as quoted by News18.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had on May 7 announced complete lockdown in the state from Monday (May 10). The total lockdown will remain in effect till 6 am on May 24.