Confusion, snarls at Delhi-Haryana border on day 1 of Covid-19 travel curbs
The Haryana police on Tuesday stepped up surveillance along the state’s borders with Delhi a day after state minister Anil Vij ordered sealing of all entry and exit points with the national capital in view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases there.
Over 200 people were stopped from crossing the border into Gurugram at Sirhaul for the want of papers and police said they will book those who have no valid reason to travel from Wednesday them instead of sending them back.
The number of barricades was increased and police said they checked each claim of commuters to ensure that only those involved in essential services were allowed to cross borders in accordance guidelines governing the lockdown imposed to check the Covid-19 spread.
Police said they would earlier take a few seconds to clear border crossings and only stopped suspected vehicles. But on Tuesday, the police insisted on checking documents of each commuter before allowing them to cross over and this resulted in traffic congestion and long queues at the Sirhaul border.
There was much confusion among commuters over the heightened surveillance and many started early to cross the border before the deployment was increased.
Rajeev Singh, a daily commuter from Ghaziabad who works in a bank, said he started at 5 am from his home as his friends and colleagues told him that the borders would be sealed after 9 am. “I could not sleep and five of my colleagues and I planned to enter Gurugram before the border was sealed. We had even got our clothes and other stuff to shift to a friend’s place as we thought we would not be allowed to return home.”
Another commuter, who works at an IT firm, said messages were circulated on social media saying the Gurugram-Delhi border will be closed and even the emergency services will not be allowed.
“I had to request one of my relatives to allow me to stay at his house for a few days as it is mandatory for us to go to the office or else I will be fired,” said Akhilesh Kumar, who is from Delhi’s Pitam Pura.
Gurugram police commissioner Mohammad Akil said they have deployed 35 personnel for each shift at all the 11 borders crossings. He added thermal scanners have been issued to all police posts and pickets and the personnel manning them have been asked to check temperatures of those entering the city from Wednesday. “We are taking all precautionary measures and are restricting travel to contain the coronavirus spread,” he said.
He said safety gear has been provided to the personnel. “Directions have been issued to them to remain at a distance and not to touch anything without wearing masks.”
Tents were put up at all police posts along the Delhi-Gurugram border to ensure the personnel could rest after their shifts get over. Medical teams were carrying out their regular checkups. The personnel wore gloves, masks, and glasses.
Akil said anyone found travelling without necessary authorisation will be booked under section 188 (disobedience to order by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code
Vij said at least 15 people, who tested positive for the disease in Haryana recently, had contracted it in Delhi. He added the state has put in place emergency measures to prevent the Covid-19 spread. Vij said the situation in the state is under control and that Haryana has the country’s highest recovery rate of over 71%.
“We have only allowed essential services and imposed stricter restrictions on those coming in from the national capital. It is important for us to save the state for the next 20 days till the situation comes under control. Until then, we should not open the borders,” he said.
The Union health ministry on Tuesday said Haryana has reported 296 Covid-19 cases and three fatalities. Of the 296, 183 have been discharged. There was a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in Gurugram last week when 51 cases were reported.