All shops on either side of the road, playgrounds and entry gates of East Rajabazar were kept closed yesterday. Police and local volunteers were working to restrict people's movement in the area.
Only health workers, journalists, patients and people with urgency were allowed to leave the area. Apart from these people, nobody including government employees was allowed to leave the zone as a 14-day lockdown was put in place there on Tuesday midnight to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
However, despite several days of preparations and announcement, some people were coming up with lame excuses for roaming around on Wednesday.
Amin Al Rasheed, a resident of the area, said, "The previous two and a half months were normal government holidays.
As a result, most of the people do not understand the difference between a general holiday and the current lockdown restrictions.
"Many people who come out on the streets do not even have reasonable causes."
Another resident Mujahidul Islam claimed that he has seen movement of people and the rush of rickshaws on the road from his balcony.
"As a result, a chaos has been created at the entrances and exit points, where the authority set up bamboo fences, and police and local ward council members are in control of the people's movements," he said.
Zane Alam Munshi, officer in charge of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar police station, said they were implementing the lockdown strategy from Tuesday night. A team of police started patrolling the area around 11am.
"It would take time to understand the lockdown process completely. Patrol teams are surveilling the area round the clock. So, it would not be so easy to go in and out of the area without any reason," he added.
Meanwhile, some residents – whose offices are in other parts of the city and they could not take leaves from offices – are in big trouble as authorities are not allowing anyone to exit the area without urgent work.
A local resident, on condition of anonymity, said, "I work as a salesperson in a shop in Dhanmondi area and get paid on a daily basis. If I cannot go to work, I won't get paid, so I will starve."
However, Faridur Rahman Khan, councillor of Ward-27 of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), claimed that they are allowing movement of people with urgent needs despite strict restrictions. He also said the locals are assisting them to ensure a strict lockdown.
"We have arranged relief material for the poor and those who need them. Others can avail home-delivery services," he said.
Some 150-200 volunteers were deployed in the area on a roster basis to enforce the lockdown rules, and deliver food and other necessary material to people's doorsteps.
"Nine vans are ready with food including vegetables and fruits. They will visit every alley in the area from 2pm. People can buy food from those vans and volunteers will deliver them to their doorsteps," said Rezwanul Haque Jami, head of e-commerce, Access to Information (A2i).
Pointing out that they were ready for any emergency food supply, Jami said they have kept three pick-up vans ready with more food.
People can also call officials concerned for rice, lentil and other necessary supplies.
Rakibul Islam Roki, one of the volunteers, said they have distributed leaflets with phone numbers of people to contact for these services.
For the suspected and confirmed patients of Covid-19, a "Covid-19 Testing Booth and Isolation Centre" has been opened at the Nazneen School and College in the area. People can give samples there and go into isolation if they are tested positive.
Roki said primarily they have set a target to test 40 samples each day.
In addition, the representatives of the DNCC's ward councillors, Directorate General of Health Services, Dhaka Metropolitan Police, A2i, E-Commerce of Bangladesh and other organisations have jointly set up a control room at the school.
Meanwhile, the Wari area of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) was supposed to be put under lockdown at the same time with the East Rajabazar as the area was labelled as red zone due to the high number of Covid-19 patients there.
However, the DSCC did not get the health ministry's permission to bring the area under lockdown.
Why is East Rajabazar kept under lockdown?
Some residents of the area raised questions about bringing East Rajabazar under lockdown on a pilot basis when there were other areas with a higher number of coronavirus cases in Dhaka.
Maksudul Haque, a former government officer who lives in East Rajabazar, asked, "For what reason our area has been selected?"
He added, "As per the IEDCR's latest data, East Rajabazar has only 28 Covid-19 patients, while there are 72 patients in Green Road, 68 in Kalabagan and 63 in Farmgate. Then why are we under lockdown?"
The health ministry, however, said the area was selected as per a unanimous decision of all the stakeholders.
"The pilot program can be in any area. It is not that only the areas with the highest number of infected patients will be put under lockdown on a pilot basis," said Md Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary at Health Services Division of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, also chief of the ministry's media cell.
Lockdown withdrawn from three areas in Narayanganj
After three days of enforcement, the lockdown was withdrawn from three areas in Narayanganj on Wednesday on the ground of decreased number of infections.
Policemen of Narayanganj Sadar and Fatullah Police Stations removed the bamboo barricades from the entrances of these areas at around 12:30pm on Wednesday, enabling vehicles and people to move around.
The police check-posts have also been removed.
Other areas will be kept under lockdown considering the number of coronavirus infections.