Panic in Maha after PM’s ‘surgical strike’ to save India

Mumbai: Women seen covering their faces as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), in Mumbai

Mumbai,  Barely had Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended his Tuesday night speech announcing a three-week-long lockdown, panicky Mumbaikars and others across the state hotfooted to shops and stores to stock up essentials for the next three weeks.

This was a triple whammy for Maharashtra in past three days with the Sunday ‘janata curfew’, Monday’s total lockdown followed by a nationwide lockdown, coming as it did on the eve of the state New Year, Gudi Padva (March 25).

In many parts of the city, and its suburbs, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, and other towns, chaos reigned as hordes of anxious people trooped out armed with cloth bags to buy foodstuffs.

However, in Mumbai, there was hardly anything available in many of the stores leading to heated exchanges among the proprietors and patrons.

At one shop in Andheri, police was summoned after a huge standoff on who would buy potatoes, leading to minor fisticuffs.

Mumbai DCP Pranaya Ashok, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Thane and Pune Commissioners of Police made fervent appeals to the people not to panic as all shops with adequate stocks would be open as usual.

Late on Tuesday night, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed the state and appealed for calm, advised people to refrain from panic buying or hoarding stuff unnecessarily and assured everything would be available as commited by his government.

In some areas, many shopkeepers, sensing potential crises, had already shut their establishments and left for their homes, and after Modi’s speech, many prospective buyers encountered only locked shutters.