Transport company manager undertakes 2,500-km road journey in truck over 4 days to be with family in Assam’s Tinsukia; put into institutional quarantine after landlord raises alarm, informs of arrival
Tinsukia: It was a sigh of relief for Bijay Singh to have reunited with his wife, staying all by herself, in their rented accommodation. But in times of coronavirus, such sudden appearances become an alarming matter for the landlord and the locality in general
That's how it turned out in Assam on Thursday.
Singh, 49, manager of a transport company, completed a journey of around 2,500 km, on his company's truck, battling a 4-day long road trip passing through the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to reach his home in Tinsukia. But, within 24 hours, he was taken into institutional quarantine after the landlord raised an alarm.
Talking to EastMojo, Babita Gogoi Chetia, owner of the two-storeyed building in which Singh's family was staying, said, “I heard the voice of Singh coming from the ground floor flat rented to them this morning. I was shocked, as he should have been in Haryana, where he went before lockdown and was stuck."
"I asked my mother to check out whether Singh has returned. Surprisingly, he reached his home last evening itself and kept hiding until now," she added.
Chetia said: "When we asked him whether he has informed the authorities, he said that the authorities checked him at Panitola check gate. However, he failed to show us a stamp on his hand, neither could he show any documents, raising our suspicion."
"We immediately discussed with one of our neighbours and around noon called 104 to report the matter. They informed us that they will have to discuss with the seniors," Chetia said, adding, "I received a call from the circle officer around 2.45 pm to enquire whether any health team has arrived. Soon, around 3 pm, a medical team landed at our place."
By then, locals, who were frightened and angry, had called police and other officials at their level to report the matter.
Chetia said that the medical team took Singh in an ambulance and asked her wife to remain in home quarantine. They advised us to keep vigil and later a team of Asha workers came and asked Singh's wife not to step out of home, and pasted COVID-19 sticker before leaving. "Singh threatened me saying that I have not done the right thing by reporting it to the authorities," she added.
Anguished over the delay by health team to come, Hardeep Singh, a neighbour, said, "We called so many persons to report the matter and the health team took so long to reach. In fact, I and Siddharth went to NRHM office and we were told that they have received the information and team will reach soon. The delay is worrying."
“We were told that all senior officers were engaged at Sadiya, where CM has a planned visit,” another local, requesting anonymity, said.
Original hailing from Harayana's Bhiwani district, Singh was stationed in Tinsukia by his company. So far, Haryana has recorded 264 positive cases of COVID-19, three of them from Bhiwani.
When contacted, Singh told EastMojo that he had flown to Haryana on March 8 to attend his niece’s wedding. "My return ticket was booked for March 25 by train but it was cancelled and sudden lockdown was announced due to which I was stuck in my village in Haryana," added Singh.
Singh said, “I was worried as my wife was alone in Tinsukia but waited for the lockdown to end. However, to my dismay, the Prime Minister announced lockdown 2.0 and I could not stop myself."
"I boarded my company's truck on April 17, which was heading directly to Tinsukia after loading food items from Rajasthan, and after great hardship reached my home around 6 pm yesterday," said Singh, adding: "We were three persons on board the truck including the driver and handyman."
We carried dry ration and used to cook food, time to time, after parking the truck at suitable locations during the journey, he added.
The lockdown had closed all eatables and roadside dhabas (eateries) in most of the states.
Talking to EastMojo, additional deputy commissioner (health) Monjit Borkakoti said, "The person has been put under institutional quarantine and her wife has been home quarantined. We are looking into the reasons for the delay to plug the gaps and have issued strict instructions so that such delay do not occur in the future."