A private hotel in Bengaluru saw a huge ruckus on Saturday as people in institutional quarantine demanded to be sent to home quarantine. The group had arrived in Bengaluru by train on Thursday.
"We did not know about the mandatory institutional quarantine for 14 days until we reached Bengaluru. We were ready to go back but they (railways) told us we could stay for two days, get tested for Covid-19 and if it turns out negative, they will let us go home. But now they are insisting we have to stay for 14 days even if we test negative. I am here to meet my family and have to return to work in Gujarat by month-end. First I was stranded in Delhi and now here. I have to let go off the job too. Some here have come for rituals as a family member has died," said one of them.
"We were briefed about the quarantine rules when we reached Secundarabad. We did not know about this. We decided to return too. My name was in the list of those who wanted to return because I did not agree to be quarantined in a hotel. But I was told to pay and stay for two days and that I will be sent home on the third day," said another woman.
At least 543 passengers had boarded the train to Bengaluru on May 12, which arrived at the city railway station on Thursday at 7:30 am. This was the first special train to arrive in the city.
After they underwent the regular temperature screening upon de-boarding, they were asked to choose from the three options of institutional quarantine prescribed by the government when around 140 people protested.
While officials said they convinced most of them, some decided to return. 19 returned on the Delhi-bound train that departed the same night. An extra carriage was attached to the train to accommodate them.
"The matter is not under our jurisdiction anymore. At the station we convinced them to undergo quarantine. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials had said they would arrange to send these people home in two days. But the passengers wanted a written assurance. Nobody agreed without it and the rest of them returned," said D Roopa, IG, Railways.
Police and BBMP officials who arrived at the hotel on Saturday have asked all of them to stay put as per the government order. In a video shot by one of the quarantined person, officials are seen asking to stop the recording.
Unlike many other states, Karnataka has mandated institutional quarantine for all passengers entering the state. Following confusion regarding the same, minister Suresh Kumar had said railways will send messages to all passengers on quarantine rules in the destination state and also distribute pamphlets on the same.
A response is awaited from BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar.