Hyderabad's Ramzan Bazaars Have Turned Into COVID Hotspots As Business Goes On
Covid protocols are up in the air in Hyderabad's Eid markets, according to vendors who say they need to make money.
Locals and police claim the turnout isn't even a quarter of what it usually is. Vendors also emphasize the importance of earning money.
In Hyderabad on May 6th, a large crowd gathered for Ramzan shopping ahead of Eid-Ul-Fitr.
Hyderabad: Hundreds of people are gathered for festival shopping in the month-long Eid markets in Hyderabad's older parts, breaching the Covid-19 protocols by not using physical distance or masks.
During the ongoing holy month of Ramzan, it appears that these areas, which are home to the iconic Charminar and the Mecca Masjid, are operating with little restraint. The flea markets were open and running as usual on Friday (May 7th), when a leading news daily reporter visited the old city. From the smallest vendors to the largest traders, the flea markets were open and running as usual.
The huge streets in and around Charminar are reserved exclusively for pedestrians on a typical Ramzan day in Hyderabad when the markets are bustling with activity. Thousands of people come out to shop, some to pray in the masjid, and some to participate in iftar events, among other things.
The state government, on the other hand, has enforced a night curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. this year. Due to a state-wide lockdown last year, the markets were closed and the town appeared empty.
However, with fewer restrictions in place during the day, a significant number of shoppers have been flocking to the markets over the last month, and the figures are only increasing.
Locals and police, on the other hand, point out that the turnout is less than a tenth of what is normal. Vendors also emphasize the importance of earning during this lucrative season.
Nonetheless, the situation is concerning, particularly given the country's ongoing battle with the Covid-19 pandemic's second wave. Greater Hyderabad Municipal Limits, which encompasses Hyderabad and its environs, recorded 5,559 Covid cases and 41 deaths on Friday (May 7th).
‘Will die of hunger if we don’t earn,’ say vendors in the area.
Staying at home is not an option for the nearly 300 vendors, particularly those on the street. They say that their income during Ramzan is at least 40% higher than during the rest of the year.
Most vendors who depend on regular sales income recall the agonizing time of income loss last year during the lockdown when all of these markets were shut down.
According to the vendors, there was some skepticism in the early days of this year's festival, but the crowd gradually grew.
Eid shopping is the only time of year that women, who make up the majority of visitors to these markets, look forward to and are "allowed" to venture out of their homes to shop. ‘Only time we are allowed to go out,’ they told a news daily.
People are very much in support of norms, say the police.
The city police have been chastised for not doing enough to keep the crowd under control. Anjani Kumar, the Hyderabad City Police Commissioner, said cases had been filed against those found to be breaking the rules.
Many fake videos were circulated on social media, according to Kumar, to spread misinformation about the crowds in the old city. According to him, four lawsuits had been filed and two people had been arrested for disseminating the false images.
"The situation is in control," says the Telangana government.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao reiterated on Thursday that the state will not be shut down. He also said that the state's Covid situation is under control.
This was in response to allegations that the state government was faking data in its daily bulletins.
The state health department told district medical officers last month that no district bulletins would be released separately.
The total number of Covid cases increased by 53% in the month leading up to May 7th, and the daily number of cases increased by at least 200%.
In April, the state saw a significant increase due to political campaigns by politicians, especially from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for by-elections. From mid-March to April, the number of Covid cases increased by 1,400%.
Last month, the Telangana High Court chastised the state government for failing to impose restrictions when they were needed and ordered the government to decide on the lockdown. The Chief Minister, on the other hand, maintained that Telangana did not need a state of emergency.