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 Chhote, a fruit-seller in north Delhi’s Jagatpuri area, 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),” he said on Thursday.
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.
Chhote said he has filed a complaint with the police but they have not taken any action yet.
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.