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In zero-case Nanded, a fear: 4,000 stranded Punjab pilgrims

nanded, nanded pilgrims stuck, sikh pilgrims in nanded, nanded coronavirus cases, coronavirus free zones, coronavirus zero case A langar at Gurdwara Langar Saheb in Nanded. (Express photograph)

ON WEDNESDAY, 12 Indonesians who arrived in Nanded on March 15 after attending the Tabligi Jamaat gathering in Delhi — linked to many coronavirus circumstances — completed quarantine with their COVID-19 take a look at outcomes unfavourable. It was the top of only one excruciating look forward to the administration within the district, amongst solely 9 in worst-hit Maharashtra with zero circumstances. Nanded has on its minds one other gathering: of practically 4,000 pilgrims from Punjab stranded on the historic Gurdwara Langar Saheb.

Resident Deputy Collector Dr Sachin Khalla mentioned all the three,755 pilgrims have been screened for signs of COVID-19 similar to chilly and sore throat over the previous two days, and none is to date exhibiting any. However, the more durable half is guaranteeing that the pilgrims don’t enterprise out of the premises of the gurdwara, one of many 5 most distinguished Sikh shrines within the nation that pulls practically 30 lakh guests a 12 months.

Section 144 has been imposed within the space, with three policemen guarding a serious highway resulting in the gurdwara, and a barricade to cease autos.

The pilgrims arrived between March 1 and March 20 and have been unable to move again. They have moved into the gurdwara’s 5 ‘hostels’ — a complete of 1,200 rooms, in several sizes.

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The administration is conscious of the dangers of getting so many underneath one roof amidst the pandemic, with little technique of guaranteeing social distancing. Nanded Superintendent of Police Vijay Kumar Magar says that after Section 144 was invoked, the primary two days posed a serious problem as pilgrims saved heading out into town.

“After that we held a meeting with religious heads and asked them to keep the pilgrims in their rooms and even serve food to them there instead of in the community kitchen,” says Magar.

But that’s simpler mentioned than performed. Bachendar Singh, a priest on the gurdwara, says their religion doesn’t enable them to show anybody away from a langar, together with non-Sikhs. “The concept of a langar was never to restrict people. Langars are not constructed with gates. How do we even close?” he asks.

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Every day, as individuals sit in rows to eat and the ladies make the meals of rice, roti, dal and sabzi, meals is ready for practically 4 lakh individuals, to be despatched all through Nanded and its surrounding areas. The wheat, rice and dal provides for the gurdwara are usually acquired within the type of donations twice a 12 months from Punjab, whereas different issues are bought regionally.

The stranded pilgrims say the one manner to make sure their security and that of others is to get them house. “If the government wants us to maintain social distance, they should make arrangements for us to return,” says Sukhwinder Kaur, who arrived on the gurdwara on March 18 together with her husband and their daughter.

Kulwinder Singh, 35, is struggling to acquire a drug for his 58-year-old mom Jaswinder Kaur, who has breast most cancers. They had left house in Kapurthala, Punjab, on March 20 with dose for 5 days, hoping to be again house by March 26. But then got here the 21-day nationwide lockdown beginning March 24. “The medical shop in the vicinity does not have the medicine. I have been looking everywhere,” says Kalwinder.

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Amrik Singh, 47, says he paid Rs 60,000, in opposition to the standard fee of Rs 45,000, to ebook a personal automobile on March 29 to take his household of 10 again to Punjab. But their automobile was stopped at Hingoli and returned to Nanded. According to him, some non-public autos are asking as a lot as Rs 1.25 lakh to take them house.

Head priest Baba Balwinder Singh says they’ve readied vehicles and 10 different autos that may take the pilgrims again if clearances are given.

The Divisional Railway Manager, Upinder Singh, says he has acquired a number of requests to run a particular practice for the pilgrims, together with from MP Pratap Chiklikar. “We are urging the Railway Minister to run a train between Nanded and Amritsar as, to travel by road to Punjab, permission will have to be granted by three states. I have written a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah as well,” says Chiklikar.

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However, authorities stay apprehensive about making an exception as it would result in a flood of comparable calls for. Chiklihar says an estimated 4.5 crore individuals are stranded in several states away from their properties.

Meanwhile, Collector Khalla hopes their fears stay unfounded. The Tablighi Jamaat disaster concerned 70,000 individuals who returned to Nanded through Mumbai and Pune. “They were put into 14 days of home quarantine and two different teams formed to ensure people observe it,” he says. None has to date examined optimistic.

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