Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation and declared a complete lockdown across India for 21 days, residents in areas across Mumbai went into a tizzy as they rushed to the nearest grocery or medical store to stock up on essentials.
There were also crowds outside ATM kiosks as people wanted to withdraw cash ahead of midnight. Amid the panic buying, announcements by the police to allay fears about the availability of essential commodities fell on deaf ears.
In many areas across Mumbai, there were serpentine queues outside shops to hoard essentials before they shut for the night. In Chembur, some residents forced shops that had already downed shutters to open again so that they could purchase rations for the next three weeks.
"It is very important for me to have everything at home now, as the PM has declared a complete shutdown. There is no clarity on what would be open and what would be available. Thus, we are left with no option but to stock everything," said man, who did not wish to be named, as he queued up outside a store in Chembur.
The rush continued despite the Prime Minister tweeting to clarify that essential services would remain available.
"I had shut my shop for the day. Suddenly, two to three persons started banging on the shutter asking for some essential products. After a point of time, I could see hundreds gathering out. I had to ask them to form a line," said a general store owner in the area.
In Malad (West), many people rushed out of their homes to stock up on groceries and medicines soon after the Prime Minister’s speech was over. With markets and departmental stores already shut for the day, people were seen rushing to local stores. With demand increasing since last Friday, many products were out of stock at grocery stores.
"We have run out of many items, and it is difficult to replenish our stocks amid the lockdown,” said a grocery store owner in Malad (West).