India

Panic, fake news make Delhi’s Gaffar market feel Corona heat

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) After Delhi government banned congregation of more than 50 people and shut down schools and cinemas, fear and panic seem to have gripped the Gaffar market, one of the biggest electronic goods market not just in Delhi but also in India.

Mannu owns a mobile phone shop in the market for the last 32 years. When asked about the footfall, he said, “Market pura khali hai. Dehshat ka mahaul hai (Entire market is empty. There is a sense of panic all around).”

While the market was not thick with crowd but nor was empty either. But Mannu corrected soon, “Where are the buyers? All you see here are shop owners.” He also recounted how he met a fellow shop owner who packed his goods in anticipation of a total shutdown of the market for a brief period.

Devender Singh's showroom for 35 years has also faced the heat. He adds a new dimension to the Coronascare – fake news. “Most of our buyers come from outside the national capital. We are told, a WhatsApp message is doing the rounds suggesting Gaffar market is shut due to Coronavirus outbreak. This has added to our problem,” Singh reasoned.

To assure the limited customers visiting the market, another shop owner, who goes by the name of ‘Sardarji', said that each shop has sanitizers on the desk and is being cleaned with a broom every few hours. He asked, “But when you don't have customers, who do you show this to?”

In Delhi's Karol Bagh, where the Gaffar Market is located, witnesses a daily footfall of approximately 1.5 lakh individuals. That number has nosedived ever since the government started its overdrive to maintain social distancing and stay away from places thick with crowd.

India has witnessed 147 cases of Coronavirus so far, including three deaths. One of the casualties happens to be in the national capital itself. As more and more offices ask their employees to work from home and schools and cinemas remain shut, Delhi's Gaffar market, known for being overcrowded, is dotted mostly by shop owners themselves.

“Aise kitne din chalega (How long will this go?), murmured Sandeep, who owns a shop here, as if he is addressing himself. But at the end of the day, that seems to be the question, entire Gaffar Market seems to be asking – “How long”.

–IANS

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