People purchasing alcohol in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh | PTI
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New Delhi: Prime time news Tuesday was preoccupied with alcohol — or mostly with the crowds that gathered outside alcohol shops in the country after they opened for the first time since the lockdown was imposed on 24 March.

ABP News rued at how social distancing rules had been torn to shreds, while Zee News’ Sachin Arora asked whether people even cared for their own lives while pining for their favorite spirits.

However, Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kakshyap was more concerned with the “train of politics” that the Opposition seemed to be running.

ABP News was very upset about the scene outside liquor shops — “Samajik doori ki niyam ke dhajiya ud gayi,” (social distancing rules were completely torn to shreds) it declared.

But as the channel showed, the scene outside the shops was nothing but jubilant. The crowds actually began clapping the moment the shutters of the shops were rolled up — “Logon ki khushi ka thikana nahi hain” (the happiness of the crowds knew no bounds).

Things got odder by the moment, one person in the queue had a garland of flowers and a coconut to supposedly mark the ‘auspicious’ and much-awaited moment. “Chehro pe khushi, taaliyon ki gadgadahat, and taliyon ki jashn ka mahaul” (smiles on their faces, sound of their applause, it was an atmosphere of celebration), said the reporter outside an alcohol shop in Noida in wonder.

However, the reporter also pointed out that Noida was still in the red zone. The police tried to ensure that people maintained distance by repeated announcements, but neither they nor the harsh glare of the sun could discourage the crowds.

Zee News’ Sachin Arora was equally concerned about the long queues outside alcohol shops and called it “the most disturbing” sight of ‘lockdown 3.0’.

“Do people care about their lives?,” he mused, as visuals of a long queue of people waiting outside a shop in Kashmere Gate played on a loop. “Look at how they are sticking to each other and standing,” he said, declaring that in the pursuit of alcohol, people are endangering themselves to Covid-19.

On ‘Halla Bol with Anjana Om Kashyap’, the Aaj Tak host said, ‘Siyasat ki rail kahi chhoot na jaye” (The train of politics does not stop). She explained how ‘lockdown 3.0’ began with a “siyasi ghamasan” (political battle). Migrants were stranded in cities, and the Opposition kept playing politics over it.

Kashyap explained that Congress President Sonia Gandhi, at 8 am Monday, had declared “hamla” on the Centre over railway ticket fares for migrants for the Shramik trains transporting them home.

The Congress said that it would incur all costs for ticket fares as the government had brought back Indians stranded abroad for free, but was apparently charging migrants a high fare.

The reality, insisted Kashyap, was that the government is paying 85 per cent of the fare, while state governments are paying the balance 15 per cent.

Republic’s Arnab Goswami, too, weighed in on the issue. “My dear viewers, for the last 42 days, some political forces have been trying to create, germinate and artificially engineer a tsunami of fake news during the Covid crisis,” he began. “You and I know who they are,” he said ominously, adding that these “political vultures” were trying to prey on those with difficulties to build their own narratives.

Not leaving the viewers to think for a moment longer, “The Vadras are wrong!,” he yelled, explaining that state governments were paying 15 per cent of migrant workers’ train fares, while the Centre was paying the rest, contrary to what Sonia Gandhi had said. “I cannot fathom what these people are made of. They just lie,” he lamented.

On Times Now’s ‘The Newshour’, host Navika Kumar commented that India reported the most lethal 24 hours Monday as the death toll mounted to 1,389. But the recovery rate was 27 per cent — the “only ray of hope”.

“India, we need to do better than this,” she said like a disappointed school teacher. She then expertly pivoted to the other issue on her mind: “India has had the highest rate of infection seen in the last 24 hours, and Congress has been left red-faced over grandstanding on the issue of migrant movements”. Claiming that the Centre had ‘fact checked’ the Congress over the migrant train fare issue, she exclaimed that the Opposition is now “running for cover”.

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