As people stranded at Delhi for almost two months due to the Coronaivirus Lockdown finally got an opportunity to return home after the Railways started train services from Delhi to 15 different places, today some people were sent back to Delhi after they had reached Bengaluru, because they refused to go for institutional quarantine.
The Indian Railway had started 15 special trains from May 12 between Delhi and 15 cities across the country, as part of gradual restarting of passenger train services. As part of this program, a special train had reached Bengaluru today from Delhi with around 700 passengers. But when the passengers deboarded the train, a chaotic situation was created at the station as many passengers refused to go for institutional quarantine, which has been made mandatory by the Karnataka government. The passengers alleged that they were not informed at the time of booking tickets that they will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days after reaching Karnataka. They said that they came to know about the rule only after boarding the train at Delhi.
When authorities at the station insisted that they have to go for quarantine, the passengers started protesting. They protested against institutional quarantining in hotels and hostels and insisted on going home. Some of them said that they don’t have enough money to stay in hotels during the quarantine period.
When the authorities said that if they reject quarantine, they will be sent back, some of the passengers decided that it is better to return to Delhi rather than spending 14 days in quarantine. As they didn’t budge from their decision, the authorities decided to send them back, and attached an additional coach to the return journey of the Rajdhani Express train.
Although initially around 150 people wanted to go back to Delhi, later around 100 people agreed to stay in quarantine, and the rest around 50 decided to return. Around 500 other passengers agreed to the quarantine voluntarily.
“An extra AC 3-tier coach has been attached to the special train (#02691) to take back about 50 passengers who refused the mandatory 14-day quarantining on returning to the city after being stranded in Delhi for over 50 days due to the lockdown and suspension of train services,” Bengaluru railway divisional manager A.K. Verma told news agency IANS.
He said that the decision to send the passengers unwilling to go for quarantine was taken by the Karnataka govt in consultation with the Railway Police Force (RPF), as they can’t go home for next 14 days, and they started protesting after arriving at the station.
Although 920 passengers had boarded the train in Delhi, 680 had arrived in Bengaluru as the rest had got down at various stations where the train halted on the route.
As per directions issued by the Karnataka govt on 11th May, all persons travelling to the state from other states will have to remain in institutional quarantine for 14 days. They can stay at quarantine centres set up at schools, hostels, kalyan mantapas etc, or they can choose to stay at hotels for which they will have to pay the charges. Only people coming from Goa can be allowed to stay in home-quarantine. It may be noted that travellers can stay for free at govt arranged quarantine centres, they will have to pay only if they choose to stay at hotels. The state govt has reserved 90 hotels in and around the railway station for institutional quarantine.