Delhi exodus: MHA cracks the whip, two top officials suspended for failing to enforce lockdown

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Updated: March 30, 2020 10:06:16 AM

The MHA order said the two officials -- Additional Chief Secretary, Transport, Renu Sharma and Principal Secretary, Finance, Rajeev Verma, failed to ensure the lockdown.

A foot overbridge on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border near Anand Vihar bus station. (PTI Photo)

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended two top officials of the Delhi government on charges of dereliction of duty during the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi six days ago. The suspension comes after Delhi witnessed a massive exodus of migrant workers to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The directions were issued after thousands of migrant workers thronged the Anand Vihar ISBT on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Sunday to return to their native villages, violating the PM’s call for a complete lockdown for 21 days to contain the spread of coronavirus. Similar scenes were seen at the Ghazipur border. According to reports, thousands of daily wagers and labourers from neighbouring states Haryana and even from Rajasthan and Punjab are fleeing in a bid to return to their native places.

The MHA order said the two officials — Additional Chief Secretary, Transport, Renu Sharma and Principal Secretary, Finance, Rajeev Verma, failed to ensure the lockdown. It added that the two officers prima facie “violated the directions” regarding containment of spread of Covid-19 in the country and “failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty”.

Besides, the MHA said it is also contemplating initiation of proceedings for major penalty against Sharma and Verma.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava has instructed cops to disallow migrants from moving out of the city by stopping buses going outside the city. On Sunday, police said more than 150 cases were registered and 3,811 people detained for violating government orders. With 23 fresh cases, the total number of coronavirus cases in the national capital climbed to 72 on Sunday.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also reiterated his appeal not to leave the city and assured the migrant workers that his government has made food and boarding arrangements for them. “I assure you that the Delhi government has made sufficient arrangements for your food and accommodation. For now, do not go to your villages in the country’s interest,” the CM tweeted.

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