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August 31, 2020

Travellers narrate harrowing tales of ‘harassment’ at Byrnihat

SHILLONG: “Harassment” to “bizarre” are the experiences of travellers and returnees, who have recently entered Meghalaya through Byrnihat checkpoint. Some of them have tales of how they were made to “suffer” at hands of those completing official formalities.

Talking to this correspondent, some of them narrated their untold experience of undue delay and strange regulations.

A person travelling from Guwahati with his elderly father and two other helpers had to wait at the Byrnihat checkpoint for nearly two hours on Thursday because of the procedural delay. The person, who is a resident of Shillong, had applied for the online entry pass from the District Administration, East Khasi Hills. It would be fair to assume that since this is an online procedure it would reflect on the computer of the person sitting at the registration desk at Byrnihat. But that is not the case.

The downloaded entry pass had to be shown to the person sitting behind a glass wall and a fresh entry was made and a paper passed to the next counter. Then the person/s were directed to a counter called ‘Medical Wing’ for their Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). This required a wait of 30 minutes before the results were out.

On a bad day when many people happen to enter Meghalaya the wait becomes endless. On Thursday there were some armed forces personnel and central government employees who having read the Home Ministry notification about doing away with the entry passes came without one and had to wait at the checkpoint, thereby delaying the procedures for others.
Then having been allowed entry into the State, another check-gate awaited the entrants at the Umiam Viewpoint. At this point a traveller coming from Guwahati on work related matters and armed with an entry pass was told by those at the check-point to deposit his original ID card. He protested because he said he would have to produce the ID card at the hotel where he would be staying. An altercation ensued and the traveller was given a mouthful.

Other entrants were asked if they had contacted their respective headmen. The entrants countered that they had got an entry pass from the District Administration and did not see why they also had to get the headman’s permission since they were going to self quarantine.

The rigmarole just illustrates how difficult it has become for individuals, including those coming on work to Meghalaya.

“Inefficiency is not a crime, but harassment is”, an elderly man remarked after being held up for four hours at Byrnihat sometime back. He suggested that a timeline should have been fixed for disposal of cases. In the absence, the returnees and travellers alike are made spend one whole day to get over with the formalities at various levels.

And not just that! The harrowing experience of some of the people going for tests at Polo Ground Sample Collection camp or even at Civil Hospital has now become a new norm. Too few equipment, long wait at the queue and to cap it all sluggish handling by those behind the counters. Talk to anybody who has gone through this process will readily relate to this narration.

Some officials believe that after five months of pressure filled duties, maybe “fatigue” has begun to tell on everyone. There are some who explain that the staff who are temporary recruits were not briefed adequately about the sensitivities involved in handling the public.

The state government has already declared holiday for those manning the entry checkpoints by shutting them down for a week to give them a deserving break.
But the effect of it will remain to be seen.

(Source: The Shillong Times)

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