On Wednesday morning, a video was circulated on WhatsApp on the ‘pitiful condition’ of the New Delhi international airport.
“Big Chaos at New Delhi International airport T3 today morning. Now they are taking the passport of the arriving passengers and not returning them till all the tests are done. Even Indian citizens with Indian passport holders are not allowed to exit the airport. Passengers are screaming at police to kill them or shoot them. This is just unbelievable,” the WhatsApp forward read.
Even B-Town celebrities share the video.
Veteran actress Soni Razdan took to Twitter to criticise the airport authorities. “New Delhi International airport T3 today. Now they are taking the passport of the arriving passengers and not returning them till all the tests are done. Even Indian citizens with Indian passport holders are not allowed to exit. Passengers are screaming at police to kill them. Sincere apologies to all those in this video please do forgive me for posting this but Im doing so in the hope that this process is done in a better manner. This is a petri dish for spreading the virus ! @MoHFW_INDIA kindly take note. Apologies again to the passengers (sic),” she said in two tweets.
However, Delhi Airport authorities told The Free Press Journal countered the video was two days old and the said incident had taken place on Monday.
The source added that government had made a separate zone inside the airport to screen passengers who have come from a select list of countries, which had resulted in a crowd on Monday. People took to social media tagging Delhi airport and the Prime Minister's office, alleging that their passports had been taken away from them.
Incidentally, nobody except the passport authority can impound your passport. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that, while the police have a right to seize passports under Section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.), they do not have the right to impound them, which can only be done by the passport authority based on Section 10(3) of the Passports Act (India 24 Jan. 2008, Sec. 13).
"The thermal screening & quarantine of passengers is being primarily handled by Airport Health Organisation (APHO). We request you to get in touch with them on their 24x7 helpline at Delhi airport - 011-25653408 or firstname.lastname@example.org for any further information," Delhi airport tweeted.
The source added that given the mass hysteria surrounding coronavirus, there have been certain individuals who did not want to be screened and began creating a scene. This has been a problem with several 'elite travellers' who don't want to be screened, the source added. This was when the video was shot and circulated on social media.
Since then, the crowds have reduced and Delhi airport hasn't witnessed a mob of that nature at immigration. This is probably because a number of passengers returned from Europe, Southeast Asia, and other nations on Tuesday itself.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had even tweeted on Wednesday that people coming from other nations had to be mandatorily quarantined, and needed high-end facilities. “Many people coming from abroad who are being quarantined require high-end facilities. Delhi govt has asked 3 hotels near the airport to set aside 182 rooms for this purpose, at a fixed price,” he said.
While the video has been doing the rounds, there have been many who have praised the Centre’s approach to tackling the disease and managing the airport.
Sonam Kapoor, who has been a vocal critic of the Centre, flew back from London to New Delhi, and was full of praise for the airport management.
"I just want to say that it is incredible the way the authorities are handling the situation. It’s very commendable and laudable. We went to immigration; they again rechecked where we had been on our passports, which was extremely responsible.Just want everybody to know that everybody is doing the best they can do, actually the government is doing the best they can do. We all are in this together," she said.