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Home Ministry objects to easing of lockdown curbs by Kerala govt




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 Ministry of Home Affair (MHA) has objected to the decisions of Kerala government to allow services like Barbar shop, local workshops, restaurants etc and urged the state government to revise its lockdown guidelines.

The Government of India has said that violations to lockdown measures reported, posed a serious health hazard to public and risk for spread of COVID-19. Union Home secretary Ajay Bhalla has written a letter to all Chief Secretaries and a separate letter has been sent to the Kerala Chief Secretary asking them not to dilute lockdown guidelines in any manner.

In his letter to Kerala Chief Secretary, Bhalla stated that the consolidated revised guidelines on the measures to be taken by the Ministries/ Departments of the Government of India has been circulated on April 15 for containment of COVID-19.

“I would like to draw your kind attention to clause 4 (i) and (ii) of these guidelines which, inter alia mentions that (i) State/UT Governments shall not dilute these guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 in any manner and shall strictly enforce the same and (ii) State/ UT Governments may however impose stricter measures than these guidelines as per requirement of the local areas,” Bhalla stated.

Bhalla has also quoted one Supreme Court order where the apex court observed “we trust and expect that all concerned viz. State Governments. Public Authorities and Citizens of this country will faithfully comply with the directives and orders issued by the Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety”.

While giving details about the decisions made by Kerala government, the Union Home Secretary said, “The Government of Kerala (GoK) vide their Order No 78/2020/GAD dated 17.04.2020 has circulated revised guidelines for lockdown measures to all Departments. District Collectors. Superintendent of Police and other Heads of Department of Kerala. On examining the said Order, it is observed that the GoK has allowed opening of activities which are prohibited in the aforesaid Order dated 15.04.2020 of MHA.”

Also read: How state govts are crowding out cash-strapped companies from debt market

“Such additional activities allowed by GoK. inter alia. includes opening of local workshops, Barber shops: restaurants; book stores: MSMEs in municipal limits: bus travel in the cities/ towns for shorter distance (upto 60 km): two passengers in the back seat of four wheeler; pillion riding on scooters. This amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by MHA and violation of MHA Order dated 15′ April 2020 issued under the Disaster Management Act 2005,” read the letter.

Bhalla has urged to Kerala government to rectify its guidelines in line with the consolidated revised guidelines dated 15′ April and 16′ April 2020 without any dilution and to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures.

Similarly, another letter has been written to all states and UTs Chief Secretaries asking them not to take decisions like the Kerala government.

Ajay Bhalla has said in his letter to states to ensure compliance of the revised consolidated guidelines, and directed all concerned authorities for their strict implementation in letter and spirit without any dilution and to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures.

Earlier, after the Centre wrote to the Kerala government regarding “dilution of guidelines” issued by MHA, Kerala Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that relaxations have been given abiding by the direction issued by Central government. He added that the Centre may have asked for an explanation, due to some misunderstanding.

“We have given relaxations abiding by directions issued by the Centre. The Centre may have asked for an explanation, due to some misunderstanding. Once we give an explanation, I hope the issue will be solved. We followed all norms set by the Central government,” Surendran said.

India is under a nation-wide lockdown which came into force on March 25 to contain the spread of coronavirus which has claimed over 500 lives in the country. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of lockdown till May 3.

A day later on April 15, the MHA released new lockdown-guidelines for the country listing select economic activities that will be allowed to function after April 20 only after the review of the COVID-19 situation in India.

Notably, the MHA had said that the revised guidelines will not apply in containment zones, as demarcated by States.

Also read: Rotis, mobile recharges, carrom boards — how Kerala fixed its migrant worker anger

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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.”

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‘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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