Triggered by a rumour on social media about government allowing citizens to move freely, over 5,000 people from Surat and its outskirt areas started travelling towards Amreli, a green zone district, in their private vehicles and on foot on Thursday night. They were, however, stopped by Surat, Bhavnagar and Amreli Police and sent back home.
According to police, a rumour was spread on social media on Thursday evening that the state government has allowed free movement of citizens to Saurashtra region. Soon, by 6:30 pm, “a sea of people”, as described by the police, began driving and walking on the national highway from Surat, crossing Vadodara, Bharuch, Bhavnagar and Khambat, towards Amreli.
Amreli Superintendent of Police (SP) Nirlipt Rai sounded off an alert to the SPs of the connecting districts in order to stop the movement of people towards Amreli.
Police say over 5,000 from Surat stopped on way to Amreli, blame rumours
“After the rumour started floating, people began their movement around 6:30 pm and we came to realise it by 8 pm after which I spoke to the SPs of the districts to activate all the check posts and bandobast points and stop them on the road itself. After police got into action, hardly 30-35 people managed to reach Amreli border in the end, after which they were sent back. We also conducted night patrolling and sarpanches of villages in Rajula, Amreli, Savarkundla areas were asked to not allow any outsider even if they manage to reach somehow. We have only allowed those with government passes and vehicles with essential commodities to pass through,” said Rai.
The Indian Express spoke to 32-year-old Rajesh Shyara, a sales agent stuck in Surat, who had also intended to travel to Amreli.
“We received a message on WhatsApp on Thursday evening that a certain check post in Surat has been opened for people to travel to Saurashtra. I am stuck in Surat for the past 40 days without work and I wanted to return. So I checked with the police but I was refused permission since I had no emergency requirement. However, three persons from my society started off from Surat from 6 pm and they reached Bhavnagar border by 10 pm,” said Shyara.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Bhavnagar SP Jaypalsinh Rathore said, “The rumour started in Surat and the movement was witnessed on the outskirts of the city. Since Bhavnagar is a red zone, we had already sealed the district and no one without government pass is allowed to travel. We did not allow any traveller to enter Bhavnagar and they were sent off at the border check posts.”
Surat commissioner of police R B Brahmbhatt did not reply to repeated calls and messages.