A total of 58 people who were quarantined in Abnoor polytechnic college, Faridkot, on Saturday morning jumped out of the college and staged a dharna on the main road asking for quick testing. They also complained that there were no facilities inside the centre and they were not even getting proper water supply.
These 58 people are the combine drivers who have come back from Madhya Pradesh after havesting wheat crop and have been quarantined in polytechnic college for the past three days. The protesters, who were wearing homemade masks on their faces or had covered them with cotton clothes, complained, “Fifty-eight of us have been kept here and we have not even been tested till now. We came more than 10 days back. We were quarantined at our houses earlier but now we have been called to this centre. We have not even been tested. So what is the purpose of bringing us here?”
Satnam Singh, a protester, said, “All of us are workers and combine machines belong to our owners. However, only we workers have been kept in quarantine centre while the owners are in their houses. Uhna nu vi ona hi corona da khatra hai, jina saanu hai (They must be facing the same threat of COVID-19 as we do) but they are sitting in their houses. On Friday night, we got food at 11 pm. On Saturday, till 10 am we did not get even tea. Therefore, we came out and staged the dharna on the road.”
The protesters demanded that they be tested soon and quarantined in their respective villages. “We will be safe in our houses or at village quarantine centres, where we can eat homemade food as well.”
It took police some time to put them back in the polytechnic college. However, when they were sitting on dharna, social distancing norms were not followed at all.
The protesters maintained that they were staying in different rooms inside the college and were not staying together. Satnam said, “Quarantined alone at home is better than being quarantined with over 50 people. We are finding it very risky.”
However, sources said that they were tested on Saturday itself and their reports were awaited.
Faridkot Deputy Commissioner Kumar Saurabh said, “We have 1007 patients in 16 different places. The number has increased in the past four days. We are testing all of them as per the testing capacity and staff with us. Everyone will be tested.”
Meanwhile, at Faridkot Medical College, 150 tests are being done daily. After Saturday’s incident, over 200 samples were sent to Lal Path Lab as well, confirmed Faridkot Civil Surgeon Dr. Rajinder Kumar.
Japanese national quarantined
Twenty-year-old Ryoma Tanaka, a Japanese national who came to India on a holiday in January this year, is stuck because of the lockdown.
Tanaka came in contact with Faridkot DC office employee Rajan at Pathankot. Rajan brought him to Faridkot. He has no money to go back.
Even flights have not resumed yet. Faridkot Deputy Commissioner Kumar Saurabh said, “The boy told us that he was on a bike trip. We are surprised as to how he managed to roam around during the lockdown. However, as he came to Faridkot, we have quarantined him at officer’s club and tested him. We are taking up the matter with Punjab Chief Secretary, MHA and even Japanese embassy for safe return of the boy.” Tanaka belongs to Tokyo city of Japan and he came to India on January 11 this year. He had been to the North-East and Himachal during his stay in India.
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