Mumbai Armed with lathis, some men were seen patrolling the main road and the by-lanes of Mahim on their bikes on Monday morning; they had even set up barricades, making sure nobody ventured out of their homes. None of these men, however, were from the Mumbai Police, but were locals from the Mahim Fishermen’s Colony.
Alarmed by the proximity of their neighbourhood to Dharavi, where some residents have already tested positive for coronavirus, residents of the area have taken it upon themselves to enforce a more stringent lockdown in their own area.
These local youth patrolling the area are not even allowing food delivery agents to enter, despite the government exempting such services from the lockdown.
Home to around 25,000 people, Mahim includes the Fishermen’s Colony, Mori Road, an area of Mahim Slope and the police quarters -- all of which were completely locked down on Monday.
No one was out on the roads owing to the patrolling by the local youth, and all shops, including grocery shops, were closed, with the exception of medical stores. Mahim has a prominent market, and even after the nationwide lockdown, a considerable number of people could be seen in the area. However, all this changed on Monday.
The residents have decided to close down all shops -- including grocery stores and dairies – to prevent anyone from stepping out of their homes for any reason other than medical. The restrictions will be lifted only on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, from 9 am to 12 pm, as decided by the residents. The government has imposed a lockdown for social distancing, so that the spread of the disease can be restricted.
But are these measures being followed? We still see people on the roads, riding bikes without any reason, and that is why we decided to enforce a stringent lockdown in our locality,” said Kalpesh Dandekar, a local resident.
“We were left with no other option as our area is located close to Dharavi, where the count of positive cases is increasing by the day,” he added.
Implementing a more rigorous lockdown in Mahim was a coordinated effort. Local groups, cutting across party lines, first came forward and formed a WhatsApp group of around 150 people, where a decision to enforce a stricter lockdown was taken.
“After the discussion, we first circulated messages to residents in the area through our group members. We also announced our decision on loudspeakers so that all would be aware of it. All the residents of the locality supported us, and no one stepped out of their homes on Monday," said Milind Vaidya, a local corporator from ward number 182.