Nagas allege discrimination in Ahmedabad after quarantined on ‘false alarm’

Sohini Ghosh, Vaibhav Jha
coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus covid 19, covod 19 outbreak, coronavirus spread, critical telecom, emergecny services, sunday lockdown, indian express

Over 300 cases of coronavirus have been recorded across the country so far/

After a mobile video shot by two persons from Nagaland at an Ahmedabad quarantine facility alleging ’discrimination’ began to make the rounds of the social media, on Saturday evening, the two, along with seven others were released from the quarantine facility later in the night following an intervention by the Ahmedabad city police commissioner Ashish Bhatia and senior IPS officers from Nagaland, posted in New Delhi and Ahmedabad, according to the victims. The nine persons from Nagaland are employed in an IT consultancy firm in Ahmedabad.

One of the nine persons, a 24-year-old woman who is employed as a call centre executive in an IT consultancy company, spoke to The Indian Express, where she said that a police team from Sola police station reached their office at Sola road in Ahmedabad around 9 pm on Friday night.

"A caller had contacted a helpline and said that a few people from China have come to Ahmedabad and they have Coronavirus. When a police team reached our office, we explained to them that we are from Nagaland and we have been working in Ahmedabad for the past five years. The police then took us to a quarantine centre and undertook our (preliminary) tests even though none of us were sick...None of us had any travel history. Yet, the quarantine facility staff said that we will have to stay there for 14 days. People are discriminating against their own country's citizens and this was a result of bias," said the female victim.

The nine persons then started posting video messages on social media, alleging racial bias on behalf of police authorities despite having no travel history or symptoms.

When contacted, Bhatia said that the case was of a "false alarm" by a caller after which confusion was sorted.

"A certain caller had reached a helpline stating that some foreign people who appear sick have been seen in Sola. The persons were then taken to the quarantine centre and tests were conducted. Later, the issue was sorted and the case appeared to be of false alarm," Bhatia added.

Municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra added that there was no discrimination involved from the officials’ side and at a time when Gujarat has been reporting confirmed COVID19 cases, a cautious approach has been taken towards quarantining. Multiple aware citizens have been informing about possible suspects, said Nehra.

“In the last two to three days itself, more than 20 people were quarantined at quarantine facilities despite not having any travel history,” added Nehra.

On late Saturday evening, senior IPS officer Wabang Jamir, Gujarat Cadre reached the quarantine centre at Sports Club in Navrangpura and spoke to the people. Later, Ahmedabad city police commissioner Ashish Bhatia also reached the spot and communicated with the professionals and the medical team. All 9 people were then released from the quarantine centre around 10.30 pm.

According to Nehra, the doctors at the AMC Sports Club quarantine facility checked the nine persons and confirmed that they did not have a travel history, they did not have a contact transmission history or any symptoms.

Meanwhile, explaining the sequence of event, Nehra said, “They (nine Nagaland-origin citizens) work at a private company here and a local resident from the area where they worked had called ‘100’ (police) first and complained saying that he thought these people had come (to the area four five days ago) with a travel history. Following the complaint, police asked around, enquired and checked and found that there was no travel history. The same complainant again approached the police and told them this time that the said persons have symptoms. Following this, the police then called up 108 (emergency services) and took them to the quarantine facility late Friday evening.”