It was a jamboree and an unsightly one at that. An opportunity given to the people to move out from their homes after days of lockdown and buy the bare necessities ahead of Easter Sunday and Cheiraoba, but in the process the few hours of relaxation given was reduced to a sort of a circus where it was a free for all. Many have gone hammer and tongs against the Government for relaxing the lockdown hours, but ultimately it is the mentality of the people that should be of primary concern. The relaxation hours, from 6 am to 11 am of April 11 ended up like an exercise in giving relaxation hours to the coronavirus to spread, ably aided by a selfish, unthinking people. This is how the character of the people of Manipur, or rather the people of Imphal, manifested itself on April 11 at all the places where markets were opened. Social or physical distancing be damned and what one saw was people jostling neck to neck, reminding one of the days when people used to break the queue system and try to get a ticket from the counter for the hit movie in town ! Situation took such a farcical turn that even some roads, such as the busy Nagamapal road witnessed traffic jams as people nonchalantly parked their vehicle anywhere they liked. Not surprisingly the circus that was enacted amid the coronavirus fear went viral on social media, notably on Facebook with many uploading pictures that defeated all the days of lockdown held before April 11. So disgusting was the sight that some conscious doctors went ahead and questioned whether the people were just plain ignorant or were not afraid to be infected by the virus which can lead to death. Remember countries like Italy and the United States which have much better public health care system in place are reeling under the impact of the virus with thousands dead.
And remember this is the same place when some self appointed leikai heroes and heroines went ahead and blocked roads in their locality when Manipur recorded its first COVID-19 positive case on March 24. It is this same set of people who twisted the understanding of maintaining physical distance to flatten the curve and reduced the relaxation of the curfew hours and lockdown to a jamboree. Just a day before some market places were thrown open to the people for some hours, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla took the trouble of issuing a circular making face mask compulsory for all whenever they step out from their homes, but this was again reduced to a pathetic joke judging by the number of people who could be seen casually coming out with no protective gears over their mouth and nostril. It is sheer providence that coronavirus has not yet proceeded to community transmission, but the reckless and foolish conduct of the people can only propel the place to the next stage of the pandemic. And even as the people in Imphal made fools of themselves Chief Minister N Biren took the trouble of uploading pictures of how folks in Ukhrul and Churachandpur strictly maintained physical distancing while lining up to buy their necessities on April 11. The contrast in the conduct is what stood out and the selfish demeanour of the people of Imphal is what came out so strongly in the free for all scenario with people jostling nose to nose to buy their necessities.