Several hundred people from West Bengal are stranded in Haridwar since the beginning of the lockdown and the Mamata Banerjee-led government has not responded to requests for arrangements to take them back, the Uttarakhand government said on Sunday. The allegations come a day after the Centre and the Bengal government traded charges over the movement of special trains in that state.
West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha told The Indian Express he was in contact with Uttarakhand’s chief secretary over the matter. Senior government functionaries in Kolkata have denied the allegations.
According to Uttarakhand Cabinet minister and government spokesperson Madan Kaushik, there are around 600 people from West Bengal stranded in Haridwar.
“We are requesting the West Bengal government again and again to take its people back because these tourists are in a state of panic and they want to go home. But no response has been received yet from there,” he said.
“The Uttarakhand government has made arrangements for their stay, food and medical facilities. But they want to go back,” the minister added.
An administration official said: “Maximum stranded tourists are from Bengal. A large number of tourists of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have left for their home in buses arranged by the governments of respective states.”
According to Kaushik, the first communication with the West Bengal government regarding those stranded was made when the lockdown was initially imposed. “Later, when the Central government allowed movement, we wrote to the Chief Secretary. But, no reply was received yet from there,” he said.
West Bengal Chief Secretary Sinha said: “I am in regular touch with CS (Chief Secretary) Uttarakhand, U K Singh.”
A senior government official said: “What Madan Kaushik said is not true. We are regularly contacting all states where people from Bengal are stranded. We are also arranging modes of transport for them to return.”
Haridwar district tourist officer Seema Nautiyal said there were around 700 tourists from Bengal who had been stranded since the lockdown was imposed. Some were able to return in taxis after obtaining permission from the Haridwar district administration over the past 2-3 days. —WITH Inputs from ENS Kolkata
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