The report was compiled by the All India People’s Forum, who spoke to several residents about their struggle during the seal down.

No ration miscommunication led to fear in Padarayanapura Fact finding reportRepresentation photo
Coronavirus Coronavirus Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 18:46

The ruckus in Bengaluru’s Padarayanapura on the night of April 19 and the fallout, has resulted in the arrest of 116 persons, who were transferred to a prison in Ramanagara earlier this week. Five of the prisoners tested positive for the coronavirus infection and a district, which had no cases until Friday suddenly became a hotspot. Following the amount of attention the incident gathered, Swaraj India (Karnataka) and an NGO named All India People’s Forum conducted a fact-finding mission in the area. The report states that the residents are more fearful after the arrests. The lack of ration and miscommunication between the government and the residents has resulted in an atmosphere of fear, the report finds.

Fear and mistrust?

In order to understand why the residents were so scared to get into the vehicle and move to quarantine centres, one has to go back to April 10, the day Padarayanapura was sealed down. Several residents told TNM that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials had only informed them that due to COVID-19 cases in the area, it was a hotspot and hence it was being shut, which led to an atmosphere of fear.

Adding to their fear, residents alleged that the BBMP had distributed ration only twice since April 10 and that the ration lasted for all of six days. Most of the people in Padarayanapura are from low-income backgrounds. They make beedis, incense sticks and stitch garments. With the lockdown, they were left with no source of income.

According to the fact finding report, cooked food packets were handed out only once in a day. “Many workers, who have had no income since the beginning of the lockdown were in a precarious situation,” the report states. 

The report states that pregnant women and children were the worst hit due to the inadequate supply of food. 

Jaleel*, a 46-year-old resident of the area, says that the residents were depending on food packets given by volunteers with NGOs or on food cooked by their neighbours. “With no proper ration, no money to buy groceries, things kept getting worse day by day,’ Jaleel adds. 

Speaking to TNM, BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar denied allegations that there was inadequate supply of food and ration in Padarayanapura. 

“I do not buy into these arguments. We have been delivering ration and vegetables twice every day. We have been distributing it to every household,” Anil Kumar said. 

Situation after the arrest

The report by the All India People’s Forum also stated that people were arrested without following due process and that the police had not adhered to the procedural safeguards to be followed during the time of arrests. 

“People reported being arrested while on their way to purchase medicines. Despite requesting the police for the reason for the arrest, they were neither provided withreasons nor was any arrest intimation given, as mandated under the law. According to many family members, arrests were done by policemen in plain clothes and they were not given arrest intimation as mandated under Section 40 of CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) and Article 22 (1) of the Constitution of India, which guarantee procedural safeguards at the time of arrest,” the report added. 

The 116 people, who were arrested, were taken to a prison in Ramanagara. Five of the prisoners tested positive for coronavirus infection. Soon after news of this event reached Padarayanapura, residents say that their fear and apprehension has increased.

Miscommunication between residents and the government

The report states that people were not made aware of the ongoing situation and the lack of adequate communication between the government and the people has led to an atmosphere of fear in the area. “Local representatives are accessible only to a few people. No engagement towards holding dialogue and assuaging fears of the people was made,” the report adds. 

It further stated that the BBMP had not conducted awareness campaigns in Padarayanapura about the seal down and the protocols for testing, which led to further miscommunication.

However, BBMP Commissioner denied these allegations and said that awareness campaigns were conducted and that posters and placards were placed in Padarayanapura regarding social distancing and the protocols for testing. 

“What gap is there to bridge here? I don’t understand this. There is nothing that we have not done. We have created awareness and have kept people informed. If this is not enough, I don’t know what is,” Anil Kumar added. 


 

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