Efforts to trace int'l passengers continue in Karnataka

Efforts to trace international air passengers continue in Karnataka

Police added that the BBMP had not made an attempt to reach the individuals through WhatsApp

Amid concerns about the new strain of coronavirus in Britain, the number of international passengers who could not be contacted in the state increased to about 300 on Wednesday but police and health officials said they have now traced all but 50 of them.

Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar described the holdouts as either having wrong information or those who have switched off their phones. “The Home Department has assured that all of them will be traced within 24 hours,” he said.

According to DCP Central M N Anucheth, nodal officer of Police Task Force in charge of the tracing operation, many of the traced individuals have told police that they were using a local SIM in lieu of their international numbers.

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“At the same time, they continued to use WhatsApp accounts tied to their previous numbers,” the DCP said.

Police added that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had not made an attempt to reach the individuals through WhatsApp.

The BBMP acknowledged that it lacked the means to conduct tracing through electronic media. “Our primary tool of tracing are phone numbers and sending a mobile team to the address. We don’t have the means to conduct tracing using other electronic avenues, such as WhatsApp or email. If such tracing methods are needed, we refer the matter to the police,” said Rajendra Cholan, Special Commissioner, BBMP.

An assessment of government data on 2,158 passengers shows that the government had collated a list of local or Indian mobile phone numbers for 95.79% of passengers. About 4.2% of passengers had given only foreign phone numbers.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,669 passengers had given phone numbers based in the United Kingdom, the United States or Europe. Many of these people had also supplied Indian numbers. Meantime, 365 passengers had supplied only Indian numbers.

Transit passengers

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The BBMP added that the remaining 50 “untraceable” were found to have incorrect or out-of-Bengaluru addresses. “None of them were from Bengaluru. This is why they still have not been found,” Cholan said.

Police also clarified that about 14 numbers provided to authorities had been entered into the government system incorrectly. “Some had nine digits. Several others were wrong numbers,” the DCP said.

In addition, about 20 people are no longer in the state as they were transit category passengers and travelled on to other cities, such as Chennai, police added.