Uncertainty dogs commuters but Delhi’s borders stay open for now
On Tuesday, Delhi reported 1,298 Covid cases with the total tally reaching 22,132. Eleven more people died over the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 556, according to the Delhi government’s daily bulletin.Updated: Jun 03, 2020 05:47 IST
Traffic moved smoothly at some of the 29 border points in Delhi while intermittent checking was conducted at some others on Tuesday, a day after the Delhi government put stringent curbs on interstate travel for a week to protect the city’s health care resources as Covid-19 cases crossed the 20,000-mark.
On Tuesday, Delhi reported 1,298 Covid cases with the total tally reaching 22,132. Eleven more people died over the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 556, according to the Delhi government’s daily bulletin. The average number of daily new cases in the last week has been 1,095 and the Delhi government has been taking several measures to augment bed strength across hospitals and medical institutions.
Senior Delhi Police officers said their personnel were briefed not to “unnecessarily harass anyone” and “allow Delhi residents to enter the Capital after seeing their residential proof”.
Many regular commuters Hindustan Times spoke to said that their travel to Delhi from Ghaziabad and Noida was smoother than what they had experienced in the past few weeks despite curbs imposed by the district administrations of the two Uttar Pradesh cities.
A Delhi government spokesperson said, “The Delhi government had sent the order to seal all borders to the Delhi police. It is now the job of the police to enforce it. The Delhi police is not under us.”
At the Gurugram border, there was no restriction on the Delhi side as commuters, including officer-goers, drove across without any checking by the Delhi Police staff. At the Ghaziabad (UP)-Ghazipur (Delhi) border, the police conducted random checks occasionally during the day time. But in the evening peak hour, no car was being stopped from entering or leaving Delhi.
Many commuters said they were confused about whether the restrictions on the border had been relaxed.
The Gurugram police, however, closed the barricades to check for movement passes and turned away a few commuters who could not establish a reason to visit the city. The police also asked people to paste the movement pass issued by the district administration on the windscreen of their cars so that their personnel deployed at the border can check it without disrupting the traffic flow.
The Haryana government had decided on Sunday evening to ease restrictions on the state’s borders with Delhi in Gurugram that had been in place since May 1. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday said talks will be held with the Delhi government to build a consensus on the inter-state movement issue. He, however, said some restrictions should stay in place. “Our borders were already closed but when the Delhi government said these should not be opened, we felt what they are saying holds weight. Strictness should be there for now along the Delhi-Haryana border,” Khattar said.
Mandeep Singh, a senior executive of a private company in Gurugram, said he had left his home in Hauz Khaz for his office at 7am to avoid any screening from the police at the border.
“I left way ahead of my office reporting time because I did not have any pass to show to the police had they stopped me. But, my colleagues who came from Delhi at the usual office time, later told me that there was no checking of any kind. I had a sleepless night for no reason. The government should have made its intention clear,” he said.
At the Badarpur border, however, the police checked the identity cards and passes of all commuters entering the national capital by cars or motorcycles, but no questions were asked of those leaving the city.
Many motorists had a tough time trying to convince the police that they belonged to Delhi and should be allowed to pass through.“So many people are showing old passes. We don’t know how to deal with them. So, we are going by our judgement in each case,” said an assistant sub-inspector deployed there.
“I had gone to a client’s home in Indirapuram in the morning. Nobody stopped me or asked for any pass. Now that I want to return home, the policemen at Delhi border refused to let me in as I do not have a movement pass. I told them Delhi CM has banned other states’ residents and showed them my Delhi residence proof. But they are not letting me in,” said east Delhi’s Mandawali resident Anil Pandit, after a brief argument with police at the Ghazipur border.
Deputy commissioner of police (east) Jasmeet Singh said, “Personnel deployed at borders have been briefed to assist people who are facing urgent situations.”
At the Dundahera and Mandi Border-(Chattarpur farms) in south Delhi, commuters were seen crossing the border without any checks, even as police barricades and policemen were present.
Similarly, no restrictions were seen at the Maharajpur, Mayur Vihar, and Bhopura borders in east and northeast Delhi, as motorists were crossing the barricades freely.
“We are implementing all provisions mentioned in the new notification. Whatever issues have come to our notice will soon be resolved. Those who need to visit Delhi should get movement passes,” said Delhi Police spokesperson, Mandeep Singh Randhawa.
While traffic flow was mostly smooth, the issuance of travel passes by district magistrates in Delhi appeared to be a source of confusion. While senior officials in the government said those working in private firms will also be issued passes by the district magistrates (DMs), administrations remained divided over whether to give passes only to those engaged in emergency and essential services, or grant permission to others in non-essential sectors as well.
“At a time when all offices and other economic activities have opened up nationally, it is difficult to restrict movement. There are over 4,000 e-pass applications pending, accumulated over two days,” said one DM, on condition of anonymity. At least two DMs said e-passes in their district are being issued only to those engaged in essential services.