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Authorities try to stop migrants' exodus from Delhi, CM says all arrangements in place

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
After three days of chaos, Delhi police on Sunday dispersed the hundreds of migrants who were converging at the inter-state bus terminals in a bid to return to their native places, as the Centre directed strict enforcement of the lockdown curbs to check the spread of coronavirus including sealing of borders.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said if the lockdown is not followed, the country will fail to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and assured the migrant workers that his government has made food and boarding arrangements for them.
Police said more than 150 cases were registered and 3,811 people detained on Sunday for violating government orders.
Though all inter-state bus service were suspended following the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night, thousands of daily wagers and labourers from Delhi, Haryana and even Punjab had been reaching Anand Vihar, Ghazipur and Ghaziabad's Lal Kuan areas since Thursday after arduous treks on foot in a bid to ride buses to their respective native places.
Police made little attempt to disperse the people even as the large crowds heightened fears of spread of infection.
However by Sunday afternoon the area had been cleared with the Delhi police discouraging migrant workers heading to Anand Vihar Inter-State Bus Terminal, even using force, carrying out intensive checking of vehicles and barricading roads.
Officials said Delhi Police chief SN Srivastava instructed his personnel to stop migrants from moving out of the city by enhancing picket deployment across the city and stopping movement of any bus going outside Delhi.
"I came here in the morning and have been waiting for police to let us go ahead, but it seems like they would not allow us," said Joginder Singh, 40, a fruit merchant who came to Anand Vihar terminus with his family in the morning to catch a bus for his hometown Moradabad.
"They are beating people who try to move further. I am here with my wife and 11-year-old son and we can't afford to be beaten up by police. Now we have only one option -- go back to our home in Shahdara's Vishwas Nagar area," Singh said.
Earlier, during a video conference with chief secretaries and DGPs, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to ensure that there is no movement of people across cities or on highways as the lockdown continues.
Jainendra Kumar (30), a daily wage worker who wanted to go Allahabad, stepped out in a group of seven which included a pregnant woman.
Waiting for a bus that could take them to Anand Vihar Interstate Bus Terminal, the group was intercepted by beat constables and shooed away. As he fled, a blow from police baton landed on his bagpack.
"We thought we can go back as buses are still leaving from Anand Vihar to Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Sharad Chandra (32) had a similar tale. He, along with his wife and two children, both less than four years of age, and his in-laws had left in the hope of getting a bus for Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh. He paid money to a driver of a private bus to drop them to Anand Vihar.
But the bus was stopped by police. They were asked to deboard and asked to go back to their house.
What do I do? Prices of essential commodities are so high that it is simply not possible to live here, Chandra, who works at a sweetmeat shop for a salary of Rs 10,000 a month, said.
The Uttar Pradesh government had on Saturday arranged around 1000 buses to ferry people from border districts of the state.
Many people were seen trying to walk on the railway track at Anand Vihar to go their home towns in Uttar Pradesh.
Addressing a digital press conference here, Chief Minister Kejriwal said the mantra to make the 21-day nationwide lockdown successful was to "stay where you are" just as Prime Minister had requested.
On his part, in an audio message, Delhi Police Commissioner directed his personnel that deployment of pickets should be enhanced on all the roads leading towards Delhi including places such as metro tracks and railways tracks.
All the district DCPs, ACPs and SHOs have been instructed to do extensive patrolling in their respective areas and deployed maximum vehicles for patrolling to check the movement of migrants.
The officers have also been asked to make announcements in areas populated by migrant workers that the government will pay them their full wages, and also to warn them that strict action will be taken if they are seen on roads.
The Centre had also directed that all those who have travelled during lockdown will be quarantined for 14 days at their destination.
According to the data shared by the police, 153 cases were registered under section 188 (for disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code till 5pm.
A total of 3,811 people have been detained under section 65 (persons bound to comply with reasonable directions of police officers) and 381 vehicles have been impounded under section 66 of the Delhi Police Act, they stated.
A bus owner and his three drivers were arrested during a picket checking at Dhaula Kuan Flyover for carrying passengers in violation of lockdown orders, police said.
Police also issued 1,868 permit passes.
They also received 1,105 calls between Saturday and Sunday (until 2 pm) on the 24-hour helpline dedicated to addressing queries related to the 21-day lockdown, officials said.
The helpline 011-23469526 has been set up to resolve issues related to lockdown through direct intervention as fast as possible and so far the total number of calls received till date is 4901, they said.
To discourage movement of people including migrant workers, the Delhi Transport Corporation directed regional managers and depot managers to instruct conductors of buses to seek duty passes from essential service providers.
The buses will have stickers "for staff of essential services only and on government duty". The route number and destination of buses will also not be displayed, said an official.
DTC is currently operating 50 per cent of its services for movement of essential service providers.

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First Published: Mar 29 2020 | 10:42 PM IST

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