Poor quality food, inadequate water, and plastic sheets for bed under the open sky are among the complaints pouring in from various quarantine centres in Jammu division, triggering protests. These quarantine centres mostly house people who have returned from various states in the country, where they were stranded following the call of a sudden coronavirus lockdown.
On Friday morning, inmates at a quarantine centre at Dhalwas in Ramban district were cane-charged by police after they held a demonstration over inadequate supply of water. Three protesters sustained minor injuries.
At Dharmoond in the same district, a large number of people, including women and children, left the quarantine centre for their home in Banihal’s Mahu Mangat area Friday, alleging supply of poor quality food and delay in their test reports. However, police intervened and made them return to the quarantine centre.
Sources said trouble at Dhalwas quarantine centre began when the centre ran out of water. With no water supply till afternoon, people came out of their rooms and began staging a demonstration. When some of them tried to come out of the quarantine facility, police had to resort to lathicharge.
While Additional SP, Ramban, Sanjay Parihar, said the water tanker got delayed owing to landslides on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, SHO Batote Police Station Niaz Malik said those at Dharmoond had issues with delay in their test reports.
“We have informed the senior officials about it,’’ said SHO Malik.
People at Dhalwas quarantine centre, however, alleged that only one water tanker arrives in a day. With 200-300 people quarantined there, the supply is inadequate, adding that whenever they ask for water, police deployed there ridiculed them.
Another person, staying at the quarantine centre for the past six days, said he was part of over a dozen-member group that reached Lakhanpur in Kathua district from Haryana on May 9. “Our samples were taken at Tikri in Udhampur district while we were on our way to Ramban district on May 10, but our test reports have not yet come,’’ he said, adding they had been quarantined for a month and their samples tested negative in Haryana as well.
At Dharmoond quarantine centre, a group of 105 people including women and children are staying for the past fortnight after they returned to the UT from neighbouring Punjab on May 1. “Our samples were collected by health officials at Lakhanpur on the same day, but our test reports have not yet come,’’ he said.
People at both the places complained about poor quality of food and dirty bathrooms. One of them said they were, however, being patient in the hope that the authorities will allow them to go home after their test reports come negative.
Ramban Deputy Commissioner Nazim Zai Khan admitted delay in arrival of their test reports, saying he has taken up the matter with health authorities and decided to get their samples collected again on Monday and get their reports on priority. Those found negative will be sent home, he added.
Similar complaints have come from various other quarantine centres in Jammu division. At Jammu’s M A Stadium, people held demonstrations Saturday alleging inadequate arrangements. “We have not taken a bath for the past three days and toilets were stinking in the absence of adequate water supply,’’a group of people alleged.
There was also no social distancing at the quarantine centre as the place was overcrowded, they alleged, adding they should rather be quarantined at home.
At the Radha Swami Satsang Ghar in Samba district’s Thandi Khui area, people alleged that they are being provided food in plastic packets and have been given plastic sheets to sleep on the floor under a tin shed,’’ one of them said.
Another had posted photographs of the Satsang Ghar on social media, saying: “No arrangements at all. Even animals are not treated like this. Social distancing is a joke. Students are sleeping on plastic sheets and are given food in plastic bags and are kept in huge open ground with no facilities.’’
A third person had tweeted that his cousin and a 62-year-old aunt, travelling from Delhi to Anantnag with passes, were held at government quarantine centre in Samba. Pointing out that they are sleeping on plastic sheets and are given food in plastic bags, the tweet read: “The staff is rude, unhelpful.”
Samba Deputy Commissioner Rohit Khajuria did not respond to repeated phone calls. However, Vijaypur SDM Chander Parkash said the satsang ghar was being used as a transit facility for segregating people coming from Lakhanpur and sending them to their native places for medical test and administrative quarantine there.
“There are between 1,500 and 2,000 people at any given time in each centre, and one cannot keep policemen for everyone to maintain social distancing. People should realise the situation themselves,’’ he said, adding their day begins at 4 am daily with the collection of details of people arriving from Lakhanpur and their district-wise segregation and arranging transport for them. “Still, people are not appreciating their efforts.”