Punjab blames Maharashtra for Covid positive pilgrims, the latter says it is not our fault

CHANDIGARH/MUMBAI/AURANGABAD: The complexities involved in evacuating thousands of migrants across state borders are beginning to sink.

On Friday they sealed off areas around the Takht Hazoor Sahib after seeing a huge increase in cases with 215 pilgrims, who had visited the shrine, testing positive on their return. The gurdwaras in the complex remain open. A Maharashtra official said: “We are examining the residents around the gurdwara. We hope that the results will be available on Saturday, ”he said.

However, the Punjab government is not happy because the returning pilgrims were not screened in Maharashtra and were only screened prior to their journey. The Punjab health minister sent a letter to Maharashtra on Thursday expressing his discontent over this charge.

Sidhu, in the letter, protested that the Maharashtra health authority had failed to test Punjab residents who had been trapped there for about 40 days.

If they had informed us of this, we would have taken our medical team there to conduct their tests before bringing them back, Sidhu said. The Punjab government is testing every person, regardless of which state they belong to, he said.

Maharashtra has responded to the accusation saying: “Each and every pilgrim was medically examined before boarding, all were asymptomatic. However, when they arrived in Punjab, many tested positive. It appears that they contracted the infection on the way to Punjab, as their vehicles passed through some of the hot spots, particularly Indore and Khargone, said the official. Some 4,000 Punjab pilgrims were stranded in Nanded due to the closure and were accommodated in Sachkhand Saheb and Langar Saheb Gurdwaras.

The Maharashtra official said nearly 300 pilgrims had also clandestinely gone to Punjab on private buses from Nanded.