Day one of the lockdown of Delhi-NCR saw crowded markets, traffic on the roads and stranded commuters who belong to the essential services category.
Borders that Delhi shares with Noida and Gurgaon saw winding queues, rampant checking of IDs and traffic snarls. In Noida, police officers said the maximum traffic was seen at the DND Flyway between 6 am and 8 am, and similar scenes played out at the Delhi-Gurgapon border.
An IPS officer in the Delhi Police said, “People aren’t listening and if you ask why someone is out, the most common excuse is that they’re visiting a doctor. We have to believe them. One man pretended to be a firefighter, and when his ID was checked, it turned out that he worked at a private firm.” An ACP-rank officer who was on field in Delhi said some commuters stuck ‘essential services’ print-outs on their cars to evade questioning. “This is not government sanctioned,” he said.
Several commuters alleged police stopped them despite them being a part of “essential” services. In the absence of cabs, many people also said they had a hard time getting to or returning from the airport.
The owner of an IVF centre in UP’s Indirapuram said 9 of the 15 staffers could not make it to work from their homes Monday. A senior physician in Noida said his clinical assistant, who lives in East Delhi’s Trilokpuri, was stranded at the border, and police did not let him through as he didn’t have an ID. “I had to send an ambulance to pick him up,” he said.
Amid the lockdown, the health department directed all department heads to hire private vehicles for transportation of officials working in Delhi government hospitals. Delhi Police too started hop-on, hop-off services for their staff. Joint CP (Northern range) Manish Agarwal said, “Some police personnel live outside Delhi. In the absence of public transport, we have our own service for them.”
Delhi Fire Services director Atul Garg said “as many staffers comes from outside Delhi for their 24-hour shift, they have been given the option of staying back in the barracks in case they can’t figure out a way to get home.”
At Outer Delhi’s Singhu border, heavy traffic was reported from 6 am till noon as people lined up to travel from Delhi to Sonipat. DCP (Outer North) Gaurav Sharma said, “We sealed the borders around 5.30 am and only allowed emergency services and those heading home. There was a delay due to a lot of private vehicles; we had to check each vehicle and the driver’s ID.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Police filed over 100 cases against people under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order), 475 cases under Section 65 of the Delhi Police Act, and 326 cases under Section 66 of the Delhi Police Act Monday.
At DND, 20 Noida traffic police personnel and several district officials said many commuters tried to enter the district from Vasundhara Enclave border. “Several travellers said they have to go to office even though work from home has been announced,” said DCP (Traffic-Noida) Rajesh S.
In Gurgaon, as per traffic personnel, two checkpoints were set up along the Expressway to manage congestion — one at Shankar Chowk to deal with vehicles coming from Udyog Vihar and Cyber Hub, and another near Sirhaul toll for those travelling from IFFCO Chowk and Signature Towers.
“Only people involved in essential services, going to the airport or hospitals were allowed to head towards Delhi, and were asked to show their ID, air tickets or prescription,” said an officer.
In Delhi, police roamed around market areas announcing that only ration shops, grocers and pharmacies will remain open, and each person should stand at a distance of one metre.
An employee at Apollo Pharmacy in East Delhi’s Savita Vihar said, “We only let one buyer inside the shop.” A police personnel in Central district said that one metre marking was done outside shops.
“We have taken photographs of certain shops that sell non-essential goods, as they may start keeping ration items in a bid to stay open from tomorrow,” said a police officer, who resorted to showing violators “news of the Canadian PM’s wife being tested positive for coronavirus” in a bid to “explain that anyone can get it”.
(With inputs from Amil Bhatnagar & Sakshi Dayal)
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