'We came out of our house a few minutes ago. Staying at home for a long time is a difficult task'
It was a Tuesday afternoon in old Dhaka’s Shankhari Bazar. More than 200 people were found loitering in the streets. Groups of senior citizens and youth were found in clusters. Some women were out purchasing daily goods.
60-year-old Narayan and Ajit were engrossed in conversation in one such group.
“We came out of our house a few minutes ago. Staying at home for a long time is a difficult task,” one of them responded, defending their reason to venture out during the shutdown, even though healthcare professionals and police have repeatedly requested all not to come out except in emergencies.
Two Ansar members – Shariful and Mofazzal – who were patrolling the area said they had asked people to go home, but no one paid heed to their request.
Not only in Shankhari Bazaar, but Dhaka Tribune witnessed similar scenes in other residential areas where people ventured out violating the government directives without any emergency.
Two people in a microbus were stopped by police in Rajarbagh. Instead of stating their purpose for casual movement, the two posing as city corporation contractors misbehaved with the police.
Traffic sergeant Mohammad Alamin who was on duty said they have been working hard to minimize movement to slow the spread of coronavirus. “But 70% of the people who come out, do so casually without any purpose, without any emergencies.”
Citing an incident, the police official said a person had completed all his shopping, but was found driving around in Dhaka in his car.
Asked, he told the police that he was looking to purchase beef liver, the sergeant said.
Following directives from the prime minister to maintain social distancing, Dhaka Metropolitan Police also urged city dwellers to stay at home.
Deployed at different points, police were found checking vehicles and questioning people. Army personnel were also found assisting them.
Earlier, around 11am, police were keeping vigilance in the Moghbazar intersection area.
Hatirjheel police OC (operation) Mohammad Golam Azam said they have been working to restrict movement to prevent the spread of coronavirus. When they found people moving around unnecessarily, they asked them to return home with a warning.
218 people got infected with Covid-19 with 20 deaths so far since the virus infection was first reported in Bangladesh a month ago.
This correspondent talked with a number of people in a number of areas including Shantinagar, Malibagh, Rampura, Rajarbagh, Khilgaon, Shahjahanpur, Arambagh, Motijheel, Nawabpur Road, Mogholtoli, Dhaka court area, Bongshal road, Ali Hossain Khan road, Wari, and Sayedabad.
Although the main roads remain free, the inside neighbourhood lanes were busy and bustling with people. In kitchen markets, people were not maintaining social distancing.
People were also gathering in Dhaka’s North Shahjahanpur Amtola Mosque Market area. Lots of shops were open, and not maintaining a safe distance between their customers. Many youths and children were also outside.