Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

Coronavirus | U.P. villages tense as many skip quarantine

 Migrant workers returning from other cities and States are being kept in primary schools or other buildings outside the village for a designated period before being granted entry to their homes.

Migrant workers returning from other cities and States are being kept in primary schools or other buildings outside the village for a designated period before being granted entry to their homes.

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh are struggling to contain people within coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) quarantine centres in rural areas.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India | State Helpline numbers

In many districts, migrants who returned home following the lockdown and consequent loss of jobs, and were kept inside these centres as per preventive protocol, have jumped quarantine or found reasons to leave the centres. The government estimates that around 2-2.5 lakh such migrants returned to various districts of U.P. after it operated bus services to transport them back from Delhi and nearby cities.

The administration has taken action against such persons in several districts including Hathras, Sultanpur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Rae Bareli, Sitapur, and Azamgarh.

Those returning from other cities and States are being kept in primary schools or other buildings outside the village for a designated period before being granted entry to their homes.

In Sultanpur, 26 persons out of 115 in a quarantine centre in Faridipur village in Gosaiganj escaped from the second floorwith the help of a cloth rope at night on March 31. However, the Sultanpur police said all 26 were were soon traced and arrested.

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In Rae Bareli on Thursday, an FIR was lodged against nine persons in Kubna village in Maharajganj tehsil for escaping the isolation centre built inside the local primary school. The FIR invoked Sections 269, 270 and 188 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant clauses of the Disaster Management Act.

In his police complaint, Lekhpal Badrinath Tripathi said the nine persons should be charged as by escaping they risked spreading COVID-19 knowing well that it was a highly infectious disease. “They have violated the full lockdown in the State,” Mr. Tripathi said.

In Rae Bareli, the district magistrate also ordered FIRs against 19 persons in Salon, Deeh and Nasirabad areas for escaping the quarantine centres and not following "quarantine norms."

Hathras police officials on Thursday evening said they had lodged a case against 29 persons under Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC and Section 4 of the Epidemic Diseases Act for allegedly escaping the quarantine centre in Sarabar village in Sadabad. Thirty-five persons were kept at the quarantine centre with some of them coming there recently after the huge influx of migrants fleeing home from cities like Delhi.

“A panchayat secretary was put on duty there. After they had dinner, when the panchayat secretary moved from there, they proceeded towards the villages,” said District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar. The panchayat secretary was suspended and a case lodged under relevant sections, said the DM.

In Lakhimpur Kheri district, police are probing the death of a 25-year-old Dalit man Roshan who was found hanging in the fields of his village Thariya Pipriya on March 31 three days after he returned home from Gurgaon where he worked in a power tower firm. His family alleged that he was threatened and badly thrashed by policemen for allegedly escaping from the local quarantine centre, following which he hung himself. Roshan had left the quarantine centre after his sister-in-law asked him to go to local flour mill to grind the grains, his brother Sipahilal said in his police complaint.

Superintendent of Police, Lakhimpur Kheri, Poonam said Roshan was not present at the quarantine centre when the verification was going on. “He was roaming outside the village,” she said, adding that policemen of Maigalganj had an altercation with him. Both constables have been sent to the police lines while a circle officer is probing the matter, Ms. Poonam added.

While Roshan’s family alleged that he had fractured his arm in the police assault and received other injuries, Kheri police said in a statement that no such injury was found in the autopsy and that the reason of death was hanging.

Kranti Kumar Singh, a political activist associated with the Samajwadi Party, questioned the credibility of the police probe saying they did not file any FIR against the constables. Mr. Singh said locals had a video footage showing injury marks on Roshan’s body. “He left hand was fractured and had swelling marks on his hip and right hand. That’s why he wasn’t cremated but buried so that a fresh autopsy can take place through a court order after the lockdown phase,” Mr. Singh said.

Awanish Awasthi, additional chief secretary home, said 40-50 persons had also left the quarantine centre in Hapur, adding that action would be taken against officials for laxity. Mr. Awasthi appealed people to not leave the quarantine centres unnecessarily, saying it was in their interest, and even suggested that people can pass time by practicing yoga.

Briefing media on Friday, Mr. Awasthi also said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath instructed that the district police chief and district magistrate would be held accountable and action be taken against the concerned karmacharis if people escape from the quarantine centres.

Several activists from East U.P. raised concerns that the migrants may be giving the slip to the authorities due to the poor vigilance.

Vinod Yadav, an activist in Azamgarh, said things depend on the will and activism of the village heads. While some village heads and panchayat secretaries are closely monitoring the migrants, some are still not active or are absent from the village, he said

Village heads from East U.P. also acknowledged that the onus was on them to ensure that those quarantined stayed in the centres, as the protocol was not being strictly maintained and it was difficult to monitor the situation from a higher level.

Jagdamba Pal Dubey, a village head from Gorakhpur, said he had locked the gate of the school compound to ensure that the two migrants who were quarantined do not escape. “I keep going there to inquire about their health. In nearby villages, reports are that people escape the centres at night and return in the morning,” said Mr. Dubey.

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Printable version | May 13, 2022 3:25:44 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-up-villages-tense-as-many-skip-quarantine/article61954395.ece