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Home ministry to act against officials who fail to check lockdown violations in their areas




File image of North Block in New Delhi, which houses the Ministry of Home Affairs | Photo: Bloomberg
File image of North Block in New Delhi, which houses the Ministry of Home Affairs | Photo: Bloomberg

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government will now hold officers on duty responsible for any violation of the lockdown guidelines in their respective areas, and will also take strict action against them under the Disaster Management Act, ThePrint has learnt.

A Ministry of Home Affairs official said the government is monitoring the situation across the states, including incidents of lockdown violation.

“Incidents of violation, which includes congregation of people, opening of shops and establishments other than those permitted in the guidelines, are being monitored daily. The administrative staff and officers concerned are expected to take charge of their area to keep these violations under check,” the official said.

The MHA is also monitoring instances of violence against health workers engaged in the fight against Covid-19.

“The MHA will take action under the Disaster Management Act against officers found responsible for such violations. The action will be taken for negligence of duty,” the official said.

“We had said initially too that all district magistrates will be responsible for their areas. The responsibility was fixed very early on. This is also a part of the MHA guidelines and advisories,” the official added.

On 29 March, the government had acted against four Delhi government officials — suspending Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) Renu Sharma and Principal Secretary (Finance) Rajiv Verma, and issuing showcase notices to Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Land Buildings departments) Satya Gopal and Seelampur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Ajay Kumar Arora — for dereliction of duty and failing to “ensure public health and safety”.

Also read: 5,600 people booked for violating Covid-19 lockdown in Mumbai

States told to make all arrangements for migrants

The MHA official said Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba Thursday asked all state chief secretaries to ensure adequate arrangements for safety, shelter and food security of migrant workers, and for the ones who have been stranded due to the lockdown.

The cabinet secretary also told district collectors to appoint nodal officers, who would be responsible for coordinating the arrangements for migrant labourers.

“Each camp is to be put under the charge of a senior official,” he said.

“The Centre has directed all states and nodal officers to keep shelter and food for migrants as a priority. Also, the chief secretaries will be responsible for what happens to the migrants in their state. This has been done to fix responsibility and ensure that the problem is effectively dealt with,” the official added.

Also read: Modi’s Goldilocks moment: Hong Kong model of lockdown, Wuhan or South Korea


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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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