A group of men with their bicycles on the way to Uttar Pradesh in the dead of the night. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint
A group of men with their bicycles on the way to Uttar Pradesh in the dead of the night. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint
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India’s Covid-19 lockdowns have become like a game in which almost every fortnight, Indians impatiently wait for the Ministry of Home Affairs to announce new lockdown guidelines that dictate their lives during the pandemic. Leaving each announcement for the last minute, citizens are left to fend for themselves and unpack the complex guidelines over the next few days. To make the process even more gruelling, the Modi government leaves all the heavy lifting for the state governments, expecting them to execute orders depending on the extent of the outbreak in their respective territories.

However, if there’s one rule that has been crystal clear and consistent in its execution throughout the country, it is the night curfew.

The latest edition of ‘Lockdown 5.0’, called Unlock 1.0, has enforced a night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am. This move has offered some respite from the earlier curfew that was imposed from 7 pm to 7 am. Among all the research currently being conducted on the coronavirus, I suggest one should be dedicated to prove to the Centre that the virality of coronavirus remains the same be it night or day.


Also read: Inter-state movement curbs: Are Indian states being paranoid or practical during Covid?


Futility of night curfew

Needless to say, imposing a curfew at night is futile.

It might be easy for the Modi government to assume that a night-long shutdown wouldn’t have a dire impact on the economy, given the ignorance with which they shut the entire country for over two months. This isn’t to defend India’s bustling night-life, or the lack thereof, but there are many Indians whose jobs demand the commitment of a night-shift. Take for instance, journalists, who work round-the-clock because the news never sleeps. Call center executives, too, are up till the wee hours of the morning.

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Before Covid struck, trucks and other goods carriers ruled the highways at night. But with the advent of the curfew, many logistics companies and transporters have complained of movement restrictions. Chirag Katira of Shree Nasik Goods Transport Co Pvt Ltd said, “The transport industry is already working in low capacity. There are hardly 150 drivers available for every 1000 trucks…Further, because of the 7 pm to 7 am curfew, the double shift work has also come to a halt. A lot of challenges are already there. With these new rules, the working capacity of trucks which is 50% at present will further decrease.”

Some also argue that these curfews will encourage corruption due to confusions on the ground level. Moreover, truck drivers heavily rely on dhabas and other eateries on the highway which will have to be shut during the curfew. Many transporters also struggle with the availability of truck drivers, as many have gone back home to their respective villages.

In order to provide economic relief and ‘unlock’ India the way the government has promised, it must do away with this pointless night curfew. If not, the backbone of the country’s economy that relies on logistics and transport companies will be heavily compromised. Or is the government relying on the worn-out Bollywood logic of raat gayi, baat gayi?


Also read: When should Indian schools physically reopen? The best answer is: not yet


Only nights are not unsafe

Imposing a night curfew is also giving into the age-old traditions of believing that ‘bad’ things happen at night.

It would be foolish to expect a change in the behaviour of this deadly virus at night. The only creature that drastically changes their behaviour at night are men. No woman in India is alien to the threat of harassment, rape and kidnapping at night. Bollywood movies also warn women who roam around at night with graphic yet hard-hitting dialogues like, “Akeli ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai.” Then, there are problematic advisories issued by the police that emphasize the night as a dangerous time of day, which if followed could end up putting women in more danger than otherwise.

It would be juvenile to believe that sexual harassment is reserved for night time. Women aren’t spared any mercy either in the dark of the night or in the brightness of the day.

The credit for inventing the idea of night curfews could actually be given to Indian parents. Even before coronavirus came along, almost every girl in an Indian household was already living the lockdown way of life. With the night curfew, each Indian invariably has now been forced to experience an Indian girl’s lifestyle.

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4 Comments Share Your Views

4 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, Night curfew is UTTER RUBBISH in this regard. There is no proven record that coronavirus attacks more at night.

  2. Very well written article, lock down at night has no significance in today’s day and age. The virus doesn’t care for day or night. Either there should be a complete lock down or no lock down at all. With the economy where it stands, lock down doesn’t seem like the way to go. People need to resume work maintaining as much precaution as possible.

  3. Agree that the lockdown ia stupid at night for business and logistics but to take rant for the women safety issue is unnecessary. Those concerns remain not due to age old superstitions or theoretical possibilities but purely due to stats which say such crimes are more prevalent when cowards have the cover of night time.

  4. I agree with you. Not sure if it driven from vague notions of morality. Bangalore police always opposes establishments remaining open late as they claim to lack manpower for effective policing.. I was thus pleasantly surprised when the Bangalore police commissioner called on establishments to run 24×7 to reduce crowding. Even out here in the UK 24 hour shops now close at 10. They claim that people are shopping a lot more than they did earlier, and they needed that shut time to restock effectively.

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