Confusion prevails on Karnataka’s border with Maharashtra

A file photo of migrant workers waiting for a medical check up at a hospital in Belagavi

A file photo of migrant workers waiting for a medical check up at a hospital in Belagavi  

No order on the entry of migrants into Karnataka

There seems to be much confusion about the entry of migrants and other persons from Maharashtra in the border district of Belagavi in Karnataka.

On Monday, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa announced at a press conference that travellers from high-prevalence States, including Maharashtra, would be allowed in a “staggered manner”. However, this was widely perceived to be a “ban” on travel from these States, and officers on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border appear to be treating it as such. Especially so, since a large number of those testing positive for COVID-19 in Karnataka have a travel history to Maharashtra over the last few days.

Valid e-pass

Officers have sealed the inter-State border at Kuganoli on Kolhapur Road. They say they are allowing only those who have a valid e-pass issued by Karnataka. However, the issue of passes appears to have stopped for now. A group of 35 migrants from Hassan and Mandya who had returned from Mumbai and Pune complained that they were not issued passes though they had uploaded documents on May 11. They were sent home only after the Chief Minister issued special permits.

This is significant as the Kuganoli checkpoint is the lone entry point for 20 districts of middle and south Karnataka.

Also read: Yediyurappa appeals to migrant workers to stay back

Officers who are stopping migrants from Maharashtra say they are doing so based on the “oral instructions” of senior officers. “This has been mentioned more than once. But there is neither a separate order nor a guideline,” a district officer said.

However, Inspector-General of Police (Northern Range) Raghavendra Suhas argued that there is no need for specific written orders to regulate the movement of travellers from Maharashtra or any other State since e-pass issued by the Deputy Commissioner [DC] of the receiving State is mandatory. “The DC issues the passes as per the guidelines of quarantine and other rules,” he said.

However, travellers caught at the checkpoint complained that e-passes were not being issued. Deputy Commissioner S.B. Bommanahalli said, “We are allowing travellers who have passes to enter. We are issuing passes based on our capacity to absorb migrants who can be quarantined in institutions such as hotels and hostels.”

Another officer from the Health Department said lack of written orders was leading to confusion. “Since Monday, we have been receiving so many calls from the border districts seeking a clarification on the movement of migrants,” he admitted.

T.K. Anil Kumar, member-secretary, Karnataka Disaster Management Authority, said the list of States from where the migrants were not allowed to enter was dynamic. “It is revised every day, following the rise in cases or other issues. That is duly communicated to the officers in charge,” he said.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 9:56:01 AM |

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