It was 10pm. A crowd of more than 50 youths had gathered at the office of a ruling party-affiliated organisation near Mohammadpur Shia Mosque. There were at least 20 motorcycles parked outside the office. Besides, many people were sitting in the roadside shops without maintaining social distance.
A member of the organisation present in the office said in a very arrogant manner they were monitoring if people were following the lockdown directives.
There is a police box nearby but the police did not take any action against these youths. The police officer in charge of the area, declined to comment on the situation.
Such a picture is common not only in Mohammadpur but also in Mirpur, Shewrapara, Banglamotor, Kathalbagan, Green Road, Farmgate, Kalyanpur, Maghbazar, Khilgaon and in almost all alleys and mahallas of different areas of the capital at night.
During the ongoing lockdown, hygiene and social distance are somewhat followed during the day, but the lockdown does not seem to be effective at night in the capital. Restrictions are not being adhered to.
Although there is some control due to patrols by law enforcers on the main roads, there are crowds of people of various ages in the alleys who do not maintain any physical distance. Even at night, fresh vegetables and fruits are being sold in rickshaw vans.
Strict restrictions are imposed across the country to control Covid-19 infections. During this time, raw materials and daily necessities can be bought and sold in open spaces from 9am to 5pm by following hygiene rules. Food shops, hotels and restaurants can sell food from 8am to 8pm.
But the reality is just the opposite. Shopkeepers keep their shutters half shut but as soon as the police appear on the scene, they pull the shutters down.
Hotel Ramna was open at the Maghbazar intersection at 10:30 pm. People were eating inside with shutters down. A couple of hotel people were standing in front of the hotel and inviting customers in.
At the time four people were seen playing ludo on their mobile phones in front of the hotel. There was also a crowd of motorbikers to provide ride-sharing services.
Hazrat Ali, a cigarette seller here, said people were roaming the streets and so he kept the shop open. Sales are also going well. At that time, no police patrol was seen in the area. A similar picture could be seen in Ambagan, Bailey Road and Shajahanpur area of Magbazar.
At 9.30 pm in the capital's Eskaton, six youths were seen hanging out. Four of them were SSC candidates and two were college students. They said their homes were nearby. They had got bored sitting at home.
Siam Ahmed, a student of Tejgaon College, said it was too intolerable being "under house arrest" for so long. So he had come out to chat with friends.
On Wednesday night, a group of youths were playing cricket on the street in the capital's Kathalbagan box culvert road alley. A little further east, a group of youngsters from the slums were playing Golla Chhut. Some were standing by the side of the road watching the game, while others were chatting and having tea with others. Most did not have face masks.
There was a mobile market in front of Baitul Mubarak Jame Mosque in Hatirpul Bir Uttam CR Datta road at around 9pm. Mangoes, guavas, bananas, vegetables and various types of snacks were being sold there. There were some policemen nearby but they were indifferent to the gathering of people violating lockdown rules.
In Mirpur too, tea shops and grocery shops were open in the alley of the Shewrapara Bata Showroom till 10:30pm.
Khilgaon intersection and adjacent areas were crowded at around 10:30pm with people and rickshaws. Many people were chatting in front of Sabujbagh Police Station. Like others, some policemen were seen having tea and smoking cigarettes there.
Abdur Rahman, a tea and snacks seller in the Bashabo area, said there was no food in the house. So he had taken the risk of opening his shop. He would close the shop before the police arrived.
Meanwhile, on the seventh day of the strictest restrictions, as defined by the authorities, on Thursday, the movement of people on the streets increased. From morning, the presence of private cars, rickshaws and motorcycles on the roads of different areas of the capital, including Farmgate, Jatrabari and Motijheel, was more than on other days. Ride-sharing motorbikes were parked at different intersections in the capital.
Seeking anonymity, a senior police officer at Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) told TBS that patrolling was a little lenient at night. Besides, shopkeepers close their shops during police patrol but they reopen them once the police leave. Many people stay at tea stalls just to chat.
Iftekharul Islam, an additional deputy commissioner at the media centre of DMP, claimed, "Our patrolling teams are working in the day time as well as at night. We are taking action against those who are not following lockdown directives."
On July 29, DMP arrested 568 people for violating lockdown restrictions. Mobile courts have imposed fines to the tune of Tk3,40,100 on 206 people. The DMP traffic wing has fined 431 cars a total of Tk9,97,500.