Mumbai: The Maharashtra government may have directed all the district administration to initiate stern action against those imposing social boycott of coronavirus patients. However, this has not deterred many people. In a shocking incident in Lalbaug, a photojournalist working with a Marathi daily was ostracised and verbally abused by his neighbours after he returned home from institutional isolation. Discrimination and social stigma has forced the 24-year-old photojournalist to go back to a hotel turned quarantined centre in Dadar, where his mother has been quarantined.
"Residents of my building even threatened to file a complaint against me when I used to step out for assignments following the lockdown. They made my work difficult by locking gates and stopping me," he informed.He added, "I had not even tested positive, however, I was in close contact of two photojournalists, who tested positive. Hence the BMC identified me as their high-risk contact and asked me to go to an isolation centre on April 20. Following two negative tests, I was asked to go home and follow 14 days of home quarantine." He was supposed to remain in home quarantine up to May 9.
When the photojournalist reached home he was stopped by at the gate by intervening residents. The corporator of the area Anil Kokil had to intervene to let him in.
"Even after testing negative he called me to help him go back to quarantine centre. I got it arranged by talking to BMC officials. This is a bad mentality to ostracised people like this," informed Kokil, local corporator.
However, on his way to his house, a few people verbally abused him. "A few people sitting in the building compound abused me and said that I am the reason for their sufferings. They confronted me and said it is because of me and foolish people like me that the building got sealed," he informed.
The height of ostracization was when he was desisted from using the common toilet on the building premises. This happened despite he asserting that his test reports were negative. He contacted his mother who was in the quarantine centre. After the incident, the photojournalist was forced to leave his home and to go back to the quarantine centre in Dadar to stay with his mother.
"We will visit the society and investigate the matter. Such incidents are unacceptable," said a senior BMC official