Border mayhem returns as Gurugram locks national Capital out
Hundreds of commuters were stuck at the Delhi-Gurugram border for hours after it was sealed around 9.40 am on Friday a day after Haryana minister Anil Vij issued fresh orders restricting the entry of people into the state citing a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases.
Gurugram police commissioner Muhammad Akil said they have cancelled all old cross-border movement permissions and asked employees working in Gurugram to make arrangements for their stay in the city.
Vij on Thursday wrote to the state home department, blaming a large movement of people between Delhi and Haryana for the sharp rise in the cases. “Most of the cases reported in Gurugram are linked to Delhi and it is not safe to allow free movement, which can lead to more cases,” Vij said on Friday.
Gurugram has reported 520 Covid-19 cases until Friday. It recorded the highest single-day spike in the cases — 115 — on Friday. The Millennium City has the highest number of cases in Haryana, which has recorded 1,721 infections so far.
The movement of vehicles engaged in essential services and people exempted from the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions was delayed as a traffic jam stretched to about four kilometres after police began checking the movement passes and turned away hundreds. The traffic jam lasted from around 10am to 11.30am.
Doctors, nurses, other health care and sanitation workers, paramilitary personnel, others involved in essential services, and ambulances were permitted to cross the border without any movement passes. Others were allowed only after their identity cards and curfew passes were checked.
Akil said all 11 crossing points have been sealed. He added except for those in exempted categories, the border will remain completely sealed. “The volume of traffic has increased manifolds along all the borders and we have placed barricades and deployed additional forces, including senior officers...”
Akil said they have taken an undertaking from employees of private firms that they will not return unless the lockdown is uplifted. The firms will have to apply for permissions for their employees for cross-border travel.
“Many commuters have passes valid till May 31. We are checking passes and if anyone is found using an expired pass, strict action will be taken. Most likely the process for new passes will begin on Saturday,” said Akil.
The application process for the new passes was suspended on Friday.
Gurugram deputy commissioner Amit Khatri did not respond to calls and messages requesting comment.
Police officers warned the situation along the border is likely to be the same for the next 15 days. Deployments of police have been increased to 40 from 20 personnel at the Sirhaul and Dundahera crossing points, people aware of the matter said.
The border was sealed earlier for 15 days from May 1. The fresh sealing came after around 15 police personnel manning border check posts were tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday amid traffic congestion during the rush hours. The interstate movement was allowed when the Centre on May 17 extended the lockdown until May 31.
Hundreds of commuters tried to cross the border as early as possible on Friday and caused the congestion amid reports of fresh orders to seal it. After police put up barricades, they were asked to either go back or give an undertaking that they would not return to Delhi if allowed in.
Dinesh Kapoor, vice president of a private company, said he packed his bag on Thursday night after the news regarding the sealing of the border started surfacing on social media. Kapoor added he crossed before the border was sealed
Nikita Mehra, a senior executive at a private firm, said the situation has become tough for people commuting from Delhi to Gurugram. “I will not be allowed to return to Delhi if I have to work here. It is difficult to make arrangements to stay in Gurugram. Our jobs are at stake.”
Assistant police commissioner Karan Goel said they have informed those who travel across the border daily for work to shift near their workplaces. “We have also informed the companies and industries to make immediate arrangements for their employees to live. Many companies have already made lodging arrangements for their staffers.”
Sonal Tripathi, a daily commuter to Gurugram, said the government allowed offices to open with 50% of staff from May 18 but how will they do so as the borders are sealed. “This is very confusing for us. One morning, we get to know the borders are sealed and next day, they open. Getting a movement pass is also not easy. It is becoming tough day by day to deal with the border issues.”