A day after the Centre ordered disciplinary action against four top Delhi government officials over “lapses” in enforcing the lockdown, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the situation had become “alarming” after “rumours” about buses drew a large number of people to the city’s exit points on Friday and Saturday.
Kejriwal said people were still trying to cross over to Noida and Ghaziabad using Delhi as a transit point, but the administration had been able to stop them so far. During the day, L-G Anil Baijal also directed police to pick up those found on roads without curfew passes and send them to the nearest shelters for quarantining.
The government did not comment on the Centre’s action. AAP sources said that Lt Governor Anil Baijal also flagged the concerns raised by the Centre in a letter to the CM on Sunday. Follow Coronavirus in India LIVE Updates
“A lot of people had gathered in Kaushambi on Friday and Saturday evening. There were rumours that buses were being arranged for them. The situation had become a little alarming. Things have been brought under control over the last two days. The Divisional Commissioners and DCPs have been ordered to ensure that no violation of the lockdown takes place,” Kejriwal said during the daily briefing on the COVID-19 situation.
“It is a little worrying though that even now many people are trying to cross into Delhi’s border to go over to Noida or Ghaziabad. But the administration is stopping them,” he added.
AAP sources said the government was unwilling to respond to the action against the senior officials — additional chief secretary (Transport) Renu Sharma, divisional commissioner Rajeev Verma, additional chief secretary (Home) Satya Gopal and SDM Seelampur Ajay Arora — as doing so “would only amplify the Centre’s narrative that the AAP government was responsible for the mess”.
“We had seen this coming. Which is why the CM in his daily briefing on Sunday had warned AAP volunteers against responding to provocations. His words were to ignore such people. That was a clear message. And the fact that L-G sent the letter is merely procedural. He conveyed the Centre’s stand,” party sources said.
Sharma and Verma did not respond to requests for comment on their suspensions. On Saturday, both UP and Delhi governments had arranged buses for the migrants walking back to their native places after their plight drew widespread outrage.
Kejriwal also attended the review meeting on COVID-19 that Baijal chairs every day. The CM and Deputy CM attended the meeting via video conferencing, following which a statement was issued by the L-G office, reiterating the prohibitions.
“No movement of people/migrant labourers should take place in any area and on the borders of Delhi. If any congregation/assembly of people is observed anywhere, the concerned DCs and DCPs will be held responsible. If any migrants/labourers are found on the roads, they should be taken to the nearest shelters to provide all assistance. Interstate border should be totally sealed except supplies of essential goods,” it said.
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