New Delhi: Haryana has taken a unique step to stop cross-border travel of state residents to Delhi in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In several villages located on the Delhi-Haryana border, the Haryana Police has dug up trenches on roads to stop people from commuting to Delhi, according to residents of those villages.
There are many Haryana residents employed with government departments, banks, police and hospitals in Delhi, who used to daily commute for work despite the lockdown.
Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij has called these people “corona carriers” and asked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to arrange accommodation for them as they are working in the national capital and commute every day.
Following his statement, Haryana’s borders with Delhi were sealed on 28 April.
The same day, the Haryana Police started digging up trenches on the roads of several villages located on the Bahadurgarh-Delhi border. These villages were used by people to commute to Delhi.
Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar has turned into a new virus hotspot after 17 cases were detected there Thursday. These include 16 people associated with Bahadurgarh vegetable market, who frequently visited Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi.
‘How will we travel in case of an emergency?’
Nitin Sehrawat, a resident of Kair village on Delhi-Jhajjar border, posted pictures on Twitter Tuesday, showing dug-up trenches on a concrete road in his village.
When ThePrint visited the village, it was found that ditches were dug on non-concrete roads too.
Though the trenches have been dug at four-five locations in this village, residents have started making their way out through empty fields.
Manoj Kumar, a resident of Khark village in Haryana, said people working in Delhi used to return quite late in the night.
“They should stay in Delhi. Vehicular traffic has reduced significantly since Tuesday after Haryana Police dug up the trenches,” he told ThePrint.
Sehrawat, however, said the Haryana Police should have resorted to more barricading like the Delhi Police has done, instead of digging up roads.
“What was the point of destroying the roads? This is a stupid move. Now in case of an emergency, how will we travel? The only path still intact is very long and it takes a long time to reach the city. My wife is in her ninth month of pregnancy. What will I do if there is a need to rush her to hospital? Rough roads are also not left untouched,” he said.
However, a senior official in the Haryana government, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint the administration hasn’t given the police any order with regard to digging up roads.
ThePrint contacted Senior Superintendent of Police, Jhajjar, Ashok Kumar via WhatsApp and calls for a comment on the matter, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
As of Friday afternoon, Haryana has 313 confirmed cases with three deaths reported so far.
Jhajjar district, which shares border with Delhi, is a Covid-19 hotspot. The district reported 18 new cases Thursday.
‘People used to travel through villages for short-cut’
A Haryana Police officer posted at a check-post on the Delhi-Haryana border said people were commuting to the national capital through the villages despite the lockdown.
“Those who could not pass via the highway were moving through these villages using them as a short-cut route. Some people pretended to be relatives, while some others made excuses in the name of a pregnant wife or a sick parent. How can we stop so many transgressors?”
“Therefore, these trenches were dug by calling a JCB (earth-mover) Tuesday. People in Delhi’s villages are behaving in a selfish manner. Due to this, coronavirus will spread in Haryana from Delhi,” he added.
The sealing of the borders has now posed a problem for Haryana residents, who are stuck in Delhi.
“I used to go home via the Tikri border. But they have sealed it now and I had to come back to Delhi,” a police officer, who is a Rohtak resident and posted in central Delhi, told ThePrint.
“The Delhi government is trying to accommodate us but we used to go to our homes after long duty hours. Everyone wants to go home in these tough times,” added the officer, who didn’t want to be named.
Since the sealing of the borders, all health workers, media and police personnel coming to Haryana from Delhi are required to show movement passes at the border.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said Wednesday there are 28 coronavirus cases in the state with connection to Delhi.
“I have spoken to Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal and said that we cannot take this risk. Some strict action is required as people are commuting between these two states on a daily basis and they should stay in Delhi only,” Khattar said.