More than 5,000 people have sought emergency passes to travel amid the lockdown for various reasons, including attending marriages and taking care of ailing relatives. However, the police have provided only 50 passes so far, to those deemed to have valid reasons.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the police enforced Section 144 in the State since March 24. The movement of people, even within districts inside the State, is not allowed. However, on Saturday, the Greater Chennai Police set up a control room to help people travel to other districts and States for emergencies like death, medical reasons and marriages of their family members.
Those who need help were asked to contact the helpline 7530001100 or e-mail gcpcorona email@example.com and produce valid documents and identity proof. A team headed by H. Jayalakshmi, Deputy Commissioner, wing for crime against women and children, is in charge of the control room.
“From the moment this was announced, we got more than 5,000 e-mails. However, we scrutinised all petitions and approved only 10,” said Ms. Jayalakshmi.
There were many mails from bachelors from other States, who were stuck in the city.
“They wanted to be with their families. But such requests were not entertained. Death or marriage of a very close blood relation or medical emergencies was accepted,” said an officer.
“Only those who have been asked to come to the Commissioner’s office need to come. Our lines are constantly busy,” he added.
S. Juliet, who had applied for a pass to travel to Coimbatore to take care of her mother-in-law said that she would have been in a fix if such an option was not there. “They asked for my mother-in-law’s medical records and our identity proof,” she said.
“Only after the Coimbatore police went to my mother-in-law’s place and verified my claims did they begin the process for issuing the pass,” she said.