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Centre says Mamata govt not enforcing lockdown in some pockets and lists ‘Muslim areas’




An elderly Kolkata woman and a rickshaw puller seen on a deserted Kolkata street amid the shutdown | Representational image | ANI
An elderly woman and a rickshaw puller seen on a deserted Kolkata street amid the shutdown | Representational image | ANI

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Kolkata: The Modi government has written to the Mamata Banerjee administration in West Bengal reiterating the need to strictly enforce the lockdown in the state.  

The central government has listed a number of places in Kolkata where it claims there “are no regulations” and a “number of exceptions” are being for marketplaces including those selling fish, vegetables and mutton. 

Of the seven places in Kolkata named in the letter, five — Rajabazaar, Topsia, Metiabruz, Gardenreach and Ikbalpur — are Muslim-dominated regions.  

Only Maniktala and Narkel Danga in north Kolkata are not dominated by the minority community in terms of population. The letter does mention that Narkel Danga has witnessed a good number of “Covid-19 like cases”. 

The letter from the ministry of home affairs (MHA), dated 10 April and  accessed by The Print, states that the union government has been receiving reports of “gradual dilution of the lockdown” in West Bengal. 

The letter mentions that “the above activities” are in violation of the home ministry’s orders and liable for penal action under the Disaster Management Act. The central government has also sought an “urgent” report from the state in this regard. 

West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha, however, said that the government did not receive any such letter as of now, while DGP Virendra did not respond to texts and calls. 

A senior MHA official told ThePrint that the letter was sent to the state Friday evening and the senior officers should get it by Saturday morning. 

Also read: ED files money laundering case after clash between Trinamool Congress factions in Kolkata

‘West Bengal govt making too many exceptions’

In its letter, the central government has accused the Mamata Banerjee administration of making too many exceptions during the lockdown. 

The Centre has claimed that “shops relating to non-essential items have been allowed to function” and there is “no regulation in vegetable, fish and mutton markets where people have been thronging in complete violation of social distancing norms”. 

The Banerjee government has allowed sweet meat shops, the flower market and bidi workers to operate for restricted hours while abiding by the social distancing rules. 

The government has also allowed 15 per cent of the total workforce in the state’s tea garden to function. 

A couple of days ago, Banerjee granted permission to restricted operations of yellow taxis for emergency purposes. 

Also read: Bombs, bullets fly as Covid-19 lockdown fails to end violence in ‘politically-charged’ Bengal

The listed violations 

The letter adds that the  state police has “reportedly” been allowing “religious congregations”.  

But there have been violations by both sides in this regard.  

Instances of people gathering at temples in West Bengal during Ram Navami were reported last week. And on Friday, prayers were reportedly held at a mosque in Murshidabad.  

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has, however, repeatedly appealed to all community leaders to ensure there are no gatherings at any religious places during the lockdown. 

The letter has also questioned political leaders distributing ration, saying this  might have “resulted in spread of Covid-19 infection”. 

“Free ration has been distributed not through the institutional delivery system but by political leaders. This may have resulted in the spread of Covid-19 infections,” read the letter.

Also read: Don’t celebrate Bengal, news of home delivery of booze is fake. Be happy with sweets


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




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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