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Modi govt likely to extend lockdown, says Congress after all-party meet with PM

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A cyclist travels on an empty street in the Marine Drive area during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Mumbai, India. | Photographer: Dhiraj Singh| Bloomberg
A cyclist travels on an empty street in the Marine Drive area during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Mumbai, India. | Photographer: Dhiraj Singh| Bloomberg


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New Delhi: The government is likely to extend the ongoing countrywide lockdown beyond April 14 to combat the coronavirus, the Congress indicated on Wednesday after an all-party meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the prime minister told the meeting that he has received several requests for extension of the lockdown to contain COVID-19, but will take a call on it only after consulting experts and the chief ministers of various states.

Azad said around 80 per cent of the leaders from various political parties, who interacted with the prime minister through video-conferencing, favoured extending the lockdown.

“It is likely that the government may extend the lockdown,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told PTI after the meeting.

He said his party put forth certain suggestions with regard to the crisis in the farming sector.

“The prime minister told the all-party meeting that he is happy that political parties have risen above politics and come together in national interest in this hour of crisis,” Azad said.


Also read: Shops open on alternate days, schools shut — states want to phase out lockdown after 14 April


He added that Modi told the meeting that he will try and implement the suggestions put forth by various leaders.

“The prime minister said he is receiving requests for extending the lockdown, but he will talk to chief ministers and experts before taking any decision in the best interest of the nation,” the Congress leader said.

Azad suggested to the prime minister to set up a task force comprising Union ministers and chief ministers of various states to recommend the way forward and help people tide over the crisis.

He also suggested setting up of a multi-party working group to help the government tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Azad said the Congress has called for a special financial package for the states most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Chowdhury said the Congress has suggested to the prime minister that farmers may be exempted from the 21-day lockdown for the harvesting of rabi crops. The party has also demanded that all taxes on fertilisers be withdrawn.

Chowdhury said his party has suggested that those enrolled under the rural job scheme MGNREGA be given priority while carrying out harvesting of the standing crop.

Azad and Chowdhury were the Congress representatives at the meeting of the floor leaders of various parties with the prime minister.


Also read: PM, MPs, ministers, President take 30% pay cut for a year to boost govt’s Covid-19 efforts


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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