“No Stock of Rice for 2 Days”: The Lockdown Stories from Goa are Horrific


“No Stock of Rice for 2 Days”: The Lockdown Stories from Goa are Horrific

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

There’s a major crisis brewing in India’s smallest state — at least that’s what locals have indicated over the last few days of the lockdown.

With most markets in Goa having shut shop, and inflated rates reported in the few places where essential commodities are available, residents of every Indians favourite holiday destination have been pleading that the rest of the country take note…

The party state, which is generally known to attract tourists with its abundant seafood, cheap drinks, and world-class bakeries, has been struggling to fend for its own citizens during the lockdown. Markets are opening sporadically, and even when they do, are running out of supplies too soon, residents have pointed out on social media.

What’s worse, locals have also complained that when they do get an opportunity to step out, they must deal with alleged police high-handedness.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had called CRPF troops into the state, with a dire — and rather insensitive — warning that “later, no one should say he has been hit because he was outside the house.” It came as no surprise then that less than 24 hours later, according to Livemint, videos emerged of passers-by being “assaulted and humiliated” in Panjim.

A day earlier, on Friday, the state High Court had directed the government to facilitate home delivery of essential commodities during the lockdown — an order that was implemented and announced on Twitter by the CM a few hours later. However, in the replies, several locals pointed out that there were either no deliveries taking place, and that the numbers provided were either switched off or not responding, leading to more confusion.

A former Panaji MLA and BJP leader Sidharth Kuncalienkar, has meanwhile claimed that Goa’s municipal corporation has been “clandestinely diverting rations from government stores to private stores and selling to the public at exorbitant rates”. The state’s Mayor has denied this accusation, reportedly asking the BJP leader to “swear on a coconut in a temple” before raising allegations.

While it remains to be seen whether that unusual demand will be heeded, a few Goans seem to believe that several local MLAs have been using the lockdown to further their own political mileage, and participate in photo- ops. According to a report in The Indian Express, ruling MLAs have been asking voters to come to community halls to collect their supplies, rather than streamlining the home delivery process.

The state has, meanwhile, reported another two cases over the last 24 hours, taking the total confirmed cases to five. But if things continue the way they currently are, Goa will have a lot more to worry about in the coming days than the pandemic. Maybe now’s a good time to revisit all those WhatsApp groups created to make Goa plans, and use them to draw more attention to the state.