Coronavirus outbreak: People looking at Worli Koliwada residents with suspicion

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 07:15 IST | Vishal Singh | Mumbai

As they start getting hate calls and hurtful messages on social media, residents 'contained in Worli koliwada call for neighbours, fellow citizens to not abandon them when they need support and reassurance the most

Boats owned by the fisher folk lie unused on Tuesday as Worli Koliwada was sealed. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Boats owned by the fisher folk lie unused on Tuesday as Worli Koliwada was sealed. Pic/Bipin Kokate

As if residents of Worli Koliwada did not have enough to worry about with eight cases of Coronavirus in the locality, many of them have been getting hate calls and messages saying they are the root cause of the pandemic spread there. The area with a population of around 80,000 was sealed on March 27 when seven people were found positive for COVID-19. On Tuesday the number went upto eight and additional reports are awaited.

The police and authorities are leaving no stone unturned to keep the spread low. No one is allowed to leave their house. But residents said people are now looking at Koliwada with suspicion. At least two residents told this reporter that they received calls from people blaming them for the spread in Koliwada.

Koli leader Prahlad Worlikar told mid-day, "The police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are not taking the local people into confidence. We only get to hear in the media how many positive patients have been found here. We are being made out to be villains after the sealing of Koliwada. People are now looking at Worli Koliwada with suspicion."

The police provided groceries to about 200 labourers from UP in Worli village on Tuesday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The police provided groceries to about 200 labourers from UP in Worli village on Tuesday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

He also said residents of Koliwada are facing a tough time as on Tuesday they did not get milk and medical and other shops are closed.

The chief Koli leader of Worli village, Vijay Worlikar, lashed out at the name callers. He said "Koliwada will not become Coronawada by anyone saying so. It will remain Worli Koliwada We are the main residents here, due to people from outside, Coronavirus has spread here." Kamgar neta and resident Bunty Lad said, "The roads here are small, even while walking people touch each other. How will we know where it has spread?" He also said no NGO has so far offered to help Koliwada.

'What social distance?'
While residents have realised the need of social distancing, they also pointed out the practical difficulties. Omkar Mandal, another resident, said he stays in a small house with nine others. "How to keep social distance in such a situation? There is a common toilet. The infection will definitely spread like wildfire here. Authorities need to think out of the box to keep it low here" he said.

Dattaram Kolgaonkar, another resident, said, "We appreciate all that the government is doing towards containment. But though it is necessary to seal the area, basics should be made available to us. Yesterday (Tuesday) morning we did not get milk. The small stores here are running out of provisions fast. There is large scale trepidation about what one will do, if they are unable to replenish their stocks," he said.

Still, some residents are ready to face the hardships. Bhushan W, who works in a bank, used to go to work on alternate days and cannot do so any longer. "But we have to see the larger perspective, which is fighting the virus," he said.

Beyond police duty
Some residents are also all praise for the police. Sanjay Kumar, 22, who hails from Jharkhand, said, "Some of us here work as kadiyas. We called the police helpline and said we have no work after the lockdown. After that the police gave us ration."

A police official said they have been providing groceries to people who need them. He also said they have made arrangements for two ambulances in case of an emergency. As Koliwada has narrow lanes and it is not possible for them to navigate these, the police have also brought two drones to keep an eye on violators of the orders.

Inputs by Hemal Ashar

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