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Monday, June 1, 2020

Covid times - Delhi 'aam' ............. and men on street 'aadmis' story !

Covid has kept people at home (is it so ?) and summer is peaking.  As the mercury shoots up and as people start predicting that ‘this year summer is going to be more hot’ …. people start thinking of delicious mango season.   Mangoes have enriched the literature ~ So many stories, real as well as apocryphal, are associated with this sublime fruit. Like Cricket among all sports, mango among all fruits has lent itself to the folklore of Indian and subcontinental literature.  Every place in India,  have their own variety of mangoes – some to be eaten ripe, some green and raw and some pickled and devoured.  Sure you can add more to this list ……..Alphonso, Totapuri, Aambaat, Banganapalli,  Neelam, Sindhoori, Malda, Pairi, Chandrakaran, Alphonso, Langra, Gulaab khaas, peddarasalu, Kesar, dashehari, movandhan, mallika …..  

The cyclone  Amphan cut a swathe through Malda before entering Bangladesh, destroying around 250 huts also in the district. No fatality was reported. The cyclone has come as a double whammy for the mango growers who didn’t get labourers for maintenance of the trees because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.  Cyclone Amphan has spelt a doom for mango cultivators. The farmers had already suffered losses as they could not carry out maintenance of trees and fruits in the absence of labourers because of the ongoing lockdown. Semi-ripe mangoes fell from the trees because of pest attack. The cyclone has damaged whatever fruits left on trees,” said Ujjwal Saha, the secretary of the Malda Mango Merchants’ Association.  The district produces around 3.5 lakh metric tons of mangoes on an average a year. The cyclone has also affected paddy, vegetables and litchi. “The data we have received from different blocks so far indicate around 16,050 metric tons of litchis were lost in the cyclone. Paddy cultivated in an area of 16,000 hectares and vegetables in around 500 hectares were damaged,” said a source in the administration.

With a history as delicious, mangoes make for one of the most popular fruits across the world. In addition to being sumptuous, pulpy and amazing, mangoes pack a host of health benefits too! – but sadly, humans misbehave at every possible opportunity.  A crisis, it is often said, brings out the best and worst in people. Delhi's worst was laid bare on Wednesday when dozens of men - passers-by, auto drivers and just about anybody - pounced upon crates of mangoes left unattended by a street vendor and robbed it clean in a nauseating display of inhumanity in the country's capital.

According to  NDTV, Hindusthan Times and other media reports, Chhote, a fruit-seller in north Delhi's Jagatpuri area, was the affected person as  the incident took place after a fight broke out in the neighbourhood, at a time when law enforcement agencies are supposed to be on heightened alert to enforce the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. "They had a fight over there, near the school. A group of men came here and asked me to move my theli (push cart)," the smalltime vendor said. Seeing his crates lying unguarded, some people in the area passing by decided to take advantage of the situation. Two, four, six - everyone scooped up whatever they could carry. The video of the incident, recorded by a witness and widely shared on social media, showed the free-for-all that followed.

Riders put mangoes in their helmets. Others called out like hawkers, encouraging everyone to help themselves. The incident caused a small traffic jam in the area, the video showed. "I had 15 crates of mangoes here worth about Rs 30,000. They took everything," Chhote said. Business has been slow because of the coronavirus lockdown and this incident has practically broken his back, the fruit-seller said.

The incident comes amid reports of violations of coronavirus restrictions in several parts of the country. The Union Home Ministry, which controls the Delhi Police, on Thursday sent out a memo to all states asking them to be vigilant and not let people break the rules.  NDTV circulated an independent note seeking monetary contributions to the fruit seller and followed with another report, this time act of goodness !

For the second time in a week, Phool Mia aka Chhote, a fruit-seller in north Delhi can barely believe his eyes. Just three days after he found his stall looted by ordinary people of mangoes worth nearly Rs 30,000, he is stunned by the response he has received. "I am thankful to you. You told my story. I am thankful to everyone who has helped me," Chhote told NDTV. "Those who had to steal, did so. But I am overwhelmed that so many people have helped me," he said. Over the last 24 hours, since NDTV ran his story and shared his bank account details, more than a hundred people have sent in contributions ranging from Rs 100-200 to several thousands.

Until this morning, he had no clue about the outrage that his ordeal had provoked or the outpouring of solidarity. When NDTV went back to him on Saturday and told him about the response from viewers and readers, Chhote was taken aback. A quick trip to the bank revealed that he had received more than enough to cover his losses.

This fruit seller was lucky to get monetary compensation – but shame on the people who looted property on road. All of them knew that they were stealing fruits that too from a smalltime roadside vendor. Fie upon them.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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