Many passengers say they were not informed about institutional quarantine while booking ticket

Some of the passengers who came by the train from Delhi leaving KSR (Bengaluru) City Railway Station for their quarantine facility on Thursday.

Some of the passengers who came by the train from Delhi leaving KSR (Bengaluru) City Railway Station for their quarantine facility on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

There was confusion and anger at KSR City station as passengers who arrived by train from Delhi stage protest

Many of the over 553 passengers who arrived on the first train from Delhi to Bengaluru on Thursday morning alleged that the authorities did not inform them about the mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine at the time of booking tickets. While some claimed they received a text message after they boarded the train at Delhi, others said they learned about it only after reaching Bengaluru.

Confusion and anger played out at KSR (Bengaluru) City Railway Station as passengers started protesting when officials insisted that they undergo institutional quarantine. Many of them refused, pointing out that they did not have the financial resources to afford a hotel room for 14 days. BBMP authorities, however, said they had made arrangements for free quarantine facilities for those who could not afford to pay hotel rates.

Not prepared

Lakshmi Narayanan, who travelled form Jhansi, said, “I am a law-abiding citizen, but they should have informed us in advance so we could have prepared better financially or regarding clothes or medicines. To be prepared for it mentally is also a challenge.”

Shreyansh, a resident of Bengaluru who came with his mother from Delhi, said, “I had booked the tickets on May 11 and I did not receive any message at the time. On May 12, when I boarded the train with my mother, I received a message from the Karnataka government that institutional quarantine is a must. After reaching Bengaluru, we pleaded with officials to allow us to undergo home quarantine.”

Mr. Shreyansh said they spent hours at the station before he and his mother agreed to institutional quarantine. “I was moved to a facility at Gandhinagar where I have to pay somewhere between ₹1,600 and ₹2,200 per day. We are already in financial distress owing to the lockdown,” he added.

Ankit Jain, who travelled from Secunderabad, said he got to know about the mandatory quarantine only after the train reached KSR station. He added that he would not have come to the city had he known about the rules.

Civic officials, however, pointed out that in the early days of the pandemic, when COVID-19 was not so widespread, many had violated home quarantine.

According to officials, some passengers had also misread the message, which said that asymptotic passengers would be quarantined while those with symptoms of COVID-19 would be hospitalised. “Many didn’t realise that they fell in the asymptomatic category and thought that they would be allowed to go home,” said an official.

A South Western Railway (SWR) official said, “On the IRTC website prior to booking the ticket, the passengers were informed that they have to adhere to health protocols of the visiting State. We had also provided hyperlink of State-wise advisory on arrival. They should have read it prior to booking tickets.”

As the chaos and arguments continued for hours, senior officials tried to pacify angry passengers. Many passengers spent the entire day at the station trying to find a solution. “I was there at the station from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Later, officials convinced us to go to quarantine by saying that if two tests come negative, we will be asked to go home. When I reached the hotel, health officials here told us that there is no such option and that 14 days quarantine is mandatory. I do not know whom to trust. I have to pay ₹2,200 for the accommodation and food per day,” said Manoj Singh, who boarded at Delhi.

No social distance

Passengers alleged that more than 300 people were asked to sit in the waiting room and that maintaining social distance also was difficult. Some also said that they were provided food at 4 p.m.

BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said, “We are following the directions of the State government. We had to convince many people and most of them agreed and went to quarantine. It is unfortunate that some protested and argued with our officials claiming that they were not informed. It is in the benefit of the their families and society as a whole that they should be under institutional quarantine.”

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 1:07:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/many-passengers-say-they-were-not-informed-about-institutional-quarantine-while-booking-ticket/article31586309.ece

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