Residents of a village in Birbhum, West Bengal, stand in a queue to collect ration distributed by the district administration | By special arrangement
Residents of a village in Birbhum, West Bengal, stand in a queue to collect ration distributed by the district administration | By special arrangement
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Kolkata: Tribal villages in West Bengal, bordering Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha, have voluntarily initiated measures to practise social distancing and isolation to fight the spread of the highly infectious novel coronavirus.

Residents in dozens of tribal villages in Purulia, West Midnapore, Bankura, Jhargram and Birbhum have blocked the entry-exit points of their villages with bricks, bamboo and tree logs. They have even put placards, saying: ‘Grame probesh nishedh (No entry to the village)’.

District officials are all praise for the villagers saying the awareness among the tribal population is very high.

“We have come to know that in some villages the tribal population has blocked the outsiders’ entry… To protect their relatives and other villagers, the migrants who have returned, are even willingly staying out of the villages,” Purulia District Magistrate Rahul Majumdar told ThePrint.

The steps taken by these tribals stand in sharp contrast to the incidents of quarantine norm violations by people in urban areas of the state.

The state’s first Covid-19 patient, student of a renowned university in the UK and son of senior official serving in the Bengal home department, created a stir after it emerged that he had skipped coronavirus tests after returning to Kolkata from London.

The patient’s mother even attended office at the state secretariat despite receiving a communication from London that a couple of her son’s friends had tested positive for the virus.

A no-entry poster outside a village in Purulia | By special arrangement
A no-entry poster outside a village in Purulia | By special arrangement

Also read: IAS officer’s wife, professor, ex-MP — Bengal’s Covid-19 ‘rumour factory’ a club of elites


Self-isolation on trees

At least 11 villages in Para, Puncha, Barrabazzar, Balarampur, Bagmundi blocks in Purulia, at least five villages in Birbhum’s Suri and Sainthia blocks, and a couple of villages in Jhargram have been cordoned off by the residents.

The tribals are even refusing to allow migrant labourers or outsiders to enter the villages.

Migrant labourers in most of the villages, meanwhile, self-isolated themselves outside the village limits — on trees, inside trucks or buses and in make-shift shelters — so they don’t infect their family members or other residents.

Quoting a villager, who has self-quarantined himself along with six others on a tree after returning from Chennai where they work as labourers, an ANI report said, “Doctors have told us to stay under home quarantine for 14 days and maintain distance. But in our house, we do not have personal rooms and our villagers discussed that we can stay here.”

He added, “…we will be staying here comfortably maintaining all rules.”

The labourer said they are served breakfast, lunch and dinner on the tree, and water is also available there. “We also have a stove to boil the water and cook food.”

Meanwhile, some migrants even approached the block officers, requesting for isolation, while the villagers have been calling the authorities regularly to give updates on those who are returning from other states.

Sanchita Ghosh, president of Nayagram block panchayat samiti in Jhargram district, said: “Our block has more than 80 per cent of tribal villages. In some areas, they have cordoned off the village entry points. They are guarding the points, checking who all are entering and who are violating the government rules.”

Ghosh said people are mostly staying at home and not loitering around.

“We routinely get calls from them with updates. Moreover, they are calling their relatives who work outside the state, asking them not to return now and stay put wherever they are. This kind of consciousness we are not seeing among the urban population,” she added.

Migrant labourers in Purulia self-isolate themselves on trees | By special arrangement
Migrant labourers in Purulia self-isolated themselves on trees | By special arrangement

‘Villagers are very cooperative’

Officials said the tribal belt in West Bengal is leading with examples in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have also made isolation arrangements in every block. The villagers are very cooperative. Our team visits them regularly to check on them,” Purulia DM Majumdar said.

He said they have also categorised those people, who have returned from other states, and made a “vulnerability index”. 

“Accordingly, we are taking care of all,” he added.

Coronavirus awareness through songs, jingles

In some villages of Birbhum, tribal artistes are spreading awareness about coronavirus and how it spreads by singing jingles and songs.

“We are distributing ration to the tribal villages every day. And the discipline they maintain needs to be seen to be believed. All of them are very poor and under BPL (below poverty level) category. But, unlike in city areas, where people push and shove others to get the packets, the tribal villagers maintain the queue, and do not come out of the circles we had drawn (in front of shops),” said Shyam Singh, Superintendent of Police, Birbhum.

The SP, however, said the blockades at entry-exit points have been removed in some villages of Birbhum.


Also read: Funeral of Bengal’s COVID-19 patient triggers protest, 16 people arrested


 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I am on this occasion using the Print space to send my CURSES to the reactionary JiXipeng, his family , children, relatives, the Communist Party of China, his cohorts in International theater, all the Chinese deviously immigrated or working in countries like Italy, Africa, ME countries etc etc. engaged in the One Belt~One Road reactionary projects, for their incompetence and what seems to be a willful conspiracy to destabilize the world for Chinese advantage by using their current force meajuere ~ notwithstanding the stupidity of western leaders to unite in last 5 years in world politics .
    I wish to soundly curse them for inflicting so much suffering onto my countrymen~regardless of whether the GoI supports me in this endeavor or not~but I curse them from the bottom of my heart so that in this lifetime they, each one of them, experience in some deep and substantial measure and manner, the suffering, breathlessness, lack of food, walking home hundreds of miles away, cashless and derived of any systemic support systems~ by such citizens, including innocent children who are semi evolved and yet unconscious to 21st Century dynamics across class, caste, creed and religion.
    It appears Chinese view of world and internationalism has deviated for the greed of dominating Capitalism at any cost~ including art elimination of peoples, their own included….at any cost. This is the picture emerging repeatedly in my vivid mind, which has seen through SEVENTY summers and winters on Earth.
    It also means our bovine other leaders, engaged in their surreptitious PERSONAL REVENUE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS all these years as a habit, detox themselves ASAP , unite and resolve to fight this Chinese menace tooth and nail for the next ten yeas and eliminate this formidable heartless EVIL and their lackeys from Earth altogether ! IF Homo sapiens are to survive as human beings and NOT human animals that they have sadly become today .
    JAI JAGANNATH

    • Respected Sri Sengupta – I TOTALLY AGREE with your feelings and sentiments expressed. The world and India needs to find a way to eliminate this entire cancer of a race from the earth to make it safe for all our future generations.. I am with you in this sir.

  2. This are genuine people with national interest in mind.
    The idiots who are troubling the doctors and behaving like the enemy must be sorted out.
    Public resources cannot be wasted on them.
    Put them in a pen and let their family look after them.

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