Covid-19: Villagers tell city folk to stay away from their hamlets

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on March 24, 2020

COVID-19 has widened the divide between rural and urban Maharashtra. Until now, cities were unwilling to accept people from rural parts but today many villages in Maharashtra have banned the entry of city people in village limits fearing that they would bring the COVID-19 virus with them.

In rural areas people are not just following social distancing but also keeping a distance from city folk to keep Covid-19 away. Many villages have declared a policy of ‘No Entry’ to citizens while others have made medical tests compulsory for relatives and friends from cities who want to take shelter in villages.

Thousands of citizens have been shifting to rural areas after the spread of coronavirus in major cities in Maharashtra, including Mumbai and Pune. In the last few days, the number of people going to villages has spiked and village panchayats took a stringent stand to not allow ‘outsiders’ into village limits.

“People in the village have shut their doors on visitors from the city. Many have asked their relatives in the city not to come to the village as the atmosphere is hostile,” said Prashant Patil, a villager from Morewadi village in Kolhapur.

Watching for outsiders

Many villages are keeping a record of relatives who have come from cities while some village panchayats are conducting household visits to check for outsiders.

The Maharashtra government has sealed district borders to stop migration but still, people are finding ways to enter villages by travelling early in the morning or late at night. The State government has closed the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the police is keeping strict vigil on the Mumbai-Bengaluru national highway to avoid mass migration from cities to rural areas.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope has appealed to villages in Maharashtra not to discriminate against city people. “Don’t treat our own people like foreigners who have come with an infection. These are our own people who have migrated to cities for education and jobs. Banning city people from entering villages does not behove a progressive State like Maharashtra,” he said on Tuesday.

But this is not the case only in Maharashtra. Thousands of skilled and unskilled workers in Pune and Mumbai have left cities. In the last one week railways and buses in these cities were teeming with people who have gone back to their States.

Published on March 24, 2020

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