Opposition leaders in Karnataka have hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government for enforcing a draconian lockdown in the state, saying the “confusing rules” of the administration were causing great inconvenience to residents.

Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that more than the pandemic, people were suffering due to the “diseased administration” of the BJP. “Lockdown guidelines are very confusing,” he wrote on Twitter. “It will not be a surprise if people from rural areas start large-scale protests.”

The Congress leader wondered why the authorities did not consider everyone’s needs before framing the rules. He said the chief minister should realise that Karnataka is “much more than Bengaluru”.

“Rural people will have to walk for 2-3 kms to buy groceries, milk or any essential goods,” he added. “How can senior citizens and others walk with goods in hand?”

The new rules

On May 7, the Karnataka government had extended the lockdown across the state till May 24. The restrictions were first announced by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on April 26, in an attempt to curb the rising cases of Covid-19 in the state.

However, the new guidelines have caused confusion among residents, many of whom complained they had to walk long distances just to buy essentials. As per the new rules, private vehicles are not permitted to ply on roads except in cases of a medical emergency or to visit hospitals or healthcare centres for vaccination, according to The Indian Express.

Spoorthi Seethamma Muruvanda, a resident of Kodagu, told the newspaper she had to walk downhill to a marketplace after the police refused to let her take her car till there. “With seven adults and three kids at home, we had to cut down on many essentials as climbing uphill to reach the car with groceries and other essentials turned out to be a tedious task,” she said. “We could not even buy the required medicines as that would mean walking further down the road.”

Even farmers were stopped on their way to the fields and from going to the grocery markets. “Corona has already destroyed us,” a farmer, Prasanna, told News18. “No demand for fruits and vegetables. The new rules have killed us completely.”

Residents also complained about the confused and contradicting timing of the restrictions. “The guidelines state that banks will open at 10 am but people are allowed to go out for essentials only between 6 am and 10 am,” said Nitin KS, a resident of Mangaluru, who had some bank work, according to The Indian Express. “Why has the government allowed banks to operate if they are not accessible to account holders?”

‘This is not the lockdown we suggested’

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that it was a tragedy that the government had forgotten to take care of its citizens who are in distress. “This was not the lockdown we suggested,” he wrote on Twitter.

He said that instead of easing the problems of living under a lockdown, the government had only added to the woes of the people. “The government should look for solutions that will address the needs of the people who do not leave the homes of the people,” Kumaraswamy added. “The state should review the steps taken by neighbouring states in this regard. People’s health is just as important as the lives of people.”