IMPHAL, Apr 13 (PTI): A group of people, majority of them without wearing masks, has gathered in front of a tea shop in Ayangpalli road in Imphal for their usual morning cuppa, while others assembled before vegetable vendors in the street.
They all ran helter-skelter after policemen arrive asking them to go home, only to return after a few minutes when the cops have moved to the next locality to enforce lockdown and curfew.
The law enforcers are finding it difficult to make people realize that Manipur is now under curfew when shops are supposed to be closed and what they are doing may land them behind the bars.
A statewide curfew was declared in Manipur on March 24 after a 23-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19. The nationwide lockdown was imposed from the next day.
Manipur so far reported two coronavirus cases.
"We have been through extreme hardship to enforce the curfew and lockdown. People don't realize that these measures are for their own good. These measures are taken to ensure public safety against the COVID-19 outbreak," a police official said on Monday.
Policemen have been reminding people multiple times a day through public address system about the dos and don'ts to follow during the curfew and lockdown, but they are hardly obeyed once cops are out of sight, he said.
"It seems everything we are doing for the public is all wasted," the dejected police official said.
However, both buyers and sellers say they are forced to venture out, despite knowing curfew and lockdown are in place.
"I sell vegetables to sustain my family of five. Sales have come down as a result of the curfew and lockdown. I understand that the curfew and lockdown are for the benefit of all. But I have to earn. I don't have enough money at home," said Boipi, a roadside vegetable vendor.
Th Bimola, a customer, said essential commodities are not available at all places and curfew relaxation hours are limited.
"We have to rush to procure essentials items as we have no idea when the next relaxation hour will come," Bimola said.
When the curfew was relaxed for five hours from 6 AM on Saturday to enable people to buy essentials before the Easter and Cheiraoba festivals, people in almost all localities in the state thronged markets and shops without maintaining social distancing norms, a health official said.
Even a traffic jam was witnessed in the streets in Khwairamband and Ningthem Pukhri Changpham areas on Saturday.
Special Secretary (Home) H Gyan Prakash had earlier said only one person per household should move out to purchase essentials and he or she needs to wear a mask.
He had also instructed shopkeepers and street vendors to ensure that customers stand in queue maintaining a distance be kept between customers.