MG Devasahayam in India Legal:
The Covid-19 lockdown on the largest population on earth with the shortest possible notice has completed five weeks. Overnight, a medical pandemic was made into an economic and humanitarian disaster of immense proportions. It is time we took stock.
First, let us see the way the lockdown was imposed in India. Even a 1,000-man infantry battalion of our professional army, always prepared and ready-for-action, gets four hours’ notice to move into operation. But here, within four hours, a 135-crore civilian population that was totally unprepared and chaotic was ordered to lock down, halting and abandoning everything. Given the immense life-livelihood hardships this has brought about, one wonders who the government was at war with—the virus or the people, particularly the marginalised.
Equally shocking was the way the lockdown was enforced—with baton-wielding police entirely in charge, taking orders from an authoritarian political leadership. There were horror stories of citizens being hounded, beaten up and subjected to all kinds of indignities. The massive number of urban migrants, mostly poor and penniless, was despised because they could be carrying the virus. So they were stopped, sprayed with chemicals and put in isolation barracks with no food or water so that they didn’t spread the disease. Many migrants, including pregnant women and tender kids, were forced on a long march home, crying for food and water en route.