On Friday, assistant sub-inspector Sunil Dutt, deployed at Delhi’s Vasant Kunj police station, found himself stuck at the Delhi-Gurgaon border, unable to return home. Dressed in his uniform, he appealed to his Gurgaon counterparts at the checkpoint to let him pass. “I am an insulin patient and need injections, which I get from my son. My family is in Gurgaon and I have taken leave to go home because I am not well, but the personnel here are not letting me pass,” he said, standing in the sweltering heat, looking for personnel he could approach to let him through.
Dutt was among hundreds of people who had a hard time at the border, with the Gurgaon administration practically closing its doors at 10 am to everyone coming in from Delhi — MCD workers, police personnel, bank employees, hospital staff, supermarket employees. While many were caught unawares, others said they were under the impression that ‘essential services’ would not be hit.
Additional restrictions have been imposed across all borders of Gurgaon following directions from the District Magistrate, wherein he stated that it had become “imperative” to take additional measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In the order, he directed that those working in Gurgaon but living in Delhi and vice-versa would have to make living arrangements at or near their workplace to avoid cross-border movement.
Gurgaon now has the highest COVID-19 cases among the districts in Haryana, with six more people testing positive Friday. It has recorded 63 cases and 38 recoveries.
Among the very few exempted from such restrictions are vehicles transporting essential items, ambulances, ATM cash vans, and those with movement passes issued by the Centre or the Haryana government. People entering the city, the order stated, will also have to download the Aarogya Setu app and undergo thermal scanning and symptomatic screening at the border.
Earlier in the day, Delhi resident Shyam Shankar Prasad had left on his motorcycle for Khandsa, where he works at a mask-manufacturing company. At the Delhi-Gurgaon border, police told him his ID card or the pass issued by the district administration would no longer suffice. “They are not letting us go to work, my employer says we won’t be paid if we don’t turn up. What are we to do?” said Prasad. “Most such companies operate out of UP or Haryana.”
Dharmendra Kumar, a resident of Mahipalpur who works as a fireman at a gated condo on M G Road, cycled to the border on the Expressway Friday afternoon. Despite repeated requests, he too was turned back. “Who will manage if a fire breaks out in one of the buildings?” said Kumar, who has been making the trip from Mahipalpur to Gurgaon for the last 14 years. “Staying at my workplace is not an option — I can’t leave my wife and daughters alone,” he said.
Among vehicles parked near the border was an Innova belonging to the Medanta group. Guddu Pal, the passenger, said he had travelled from Medanta Hospital in Lucknow to Gurgaon to pick up PPE kits, masks, gloves, and other equipment from its Gurgaon facility. “I have my ID card and hospital papers, which got me through all the checkpoints from Lucknow till here. But police are not letting me through. What is so special about Gurgaon that papers that work everywhere else have no value here?” he said.
Among those who faced trouble travelling to their homes was a woman employed with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, who was travelling with three colleagues. “All of us live near Rajiv Chowk and are returning from duty, but police are not letting us through. Our homes are in Gurgaon. If we cannot pass, where do we go?” she said.
Officials insisted the situation will become more manageable in some time. Gurgaon Police Commissioner Mohammad Akil said, “2,500 personnel were deployed at the borders to enforce additional restrictions. The situation was manageable today and will become smoother in terms of execution with time.”
“Today being the first day of restrictions, there was bound to be some confusion. The situation will become better and implementation smoother as awareness spreads,” said ACP Karan Goyal at Sirhaul border on the Expressway.