On most usual days, Ludhiana is your sun-kissed and vivacious destination full of movers and shakers for the better part of the day. There is not a single day when the city’s favourite MBD mall is not packed with visitors and young couples spreading smiles and good vibes. There’s constant chirping from day to night at the renowned Akal Garh market where churidars, salwars, and other make-up accessories attract the attention of Ludhianvi women akin to some magic magnet. Then there’s the Gur Mandi where the wholesalers and traders have their say irrespective of whether it’s a weekday or the weekend.
But talk of Ludhiana now in this new wave of COVID 19 and you’ll find it sporting a deserted look.
No shops opened, except for those selling essential supplies. Hardly any footfalls in the prominent malls. Everyone is locked in and bunked inside the comfort of their homes since it’s terrible times out there.
As a matter of fact, while much of our attention has been resting with the prominent urban cities such as a Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Gurgaon, it appears that the plight of places like Ludhiana is somewhat undermined. But make no mistake- what’s happening out here in the beating heart of Punjab is nothing shy than a sob story, especially if you hear things first-hand from the shopkeepers.
So what is going down there?
Believe it or not, but the shopkeepers operating in Ludhiana are actually demanding a lockdown for full fifteen days. At this point in time, various market associations have actually urged the Chief Minister to impose a lockdown without wasting any further time if one’s to see a breakage in the chain in rising infections.
Here’s what a key member of the Ludhiana Cloth Merchants Association had to say, “We have already written to the CM that the state should be shut for 15 days otherwise we will be in a helpless position like Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Bangalore. Focus should be on health infrastructure and nothing else. Although it will be a business loss to us, we will fully support this lockdown.”
This is not a standalone call for lockdown, as another member of the Clock Tower Market Association added further on the matter echoing a similar sentiment, “Condition in the city shows that every 3rd or 4th house is having a patient with Covid symptoms. A few test negative in RT-PCR but still get treated as Covid patients only. In our market many shops are getting closed because shopkeepers are getting sick. So, we urge the state to impose a 15-day lockdown and we will fully support.”
Moreover, while there are active COVID cases on the one hand, there’s also the matter of the shopkeepers’ own plight on the other. There are bills to be paid. The rentals to be looked after and at all this time, there hardly are any customers. One’s got to earn and look after the welfare of one’s family too, right?
With the shopkeepers getting no business, the scenes are murkier than ever. What happens in the coming few weeks will go a long way to decide the imminent future of one of the most bustling cities of Punjab. Yet, the question remains- will a full-fledged lockdown be imposed for a fortnight?