The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central Government and Trinamool Congress (TMC) ruled West Bengal State Government locked horns on Saturday over the “gradual dilution” of lockdown rules in the state by allowing religious gatherings in mosques, ruling party TMC sponsored mass gathering in food distribution, opening of flowers, sweets and pan shops in many areas. Union Home Ministry in a letter to the State Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police (DGP) expressed displeasure on the violation of lockdown rules and allowing gathering in religious places and asked to stop it immediately and sought action taken report.
The Home Ministry’s letter was shot to the state soon after the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the abuse of power by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar in the video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Later in the evening, the Governor came out with a video message in social media appealing people of the state to keep lockdown and social distancing norms to prevent COVID-19 pandemic.
“As per further reports received from security agencies, gradual dilution of lockdown has been reported from West Bengal with an increase in the number of exceptions being provided by the State Government. For instance, shops relating to non-essential items have been allowed to function. There is no regulation in vegetable, fish and mutton markets where people have been thronging in complete violation of social distancing norms,” said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) citing huge crowds in Kolkata’s Rajabazaar, Nakel Danga, Topsia, Metiaburz, Gardenreach, Ikbalpur, and Maniktala.
In a strongly worded letter, MHA pointed out that Narkel Danga is already witnessing more COVID-19 cases. Hitting TMC, the MHA said that “it has been reported that police have been allowing religious congregations”. “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,” said MHA, asking Chief Secretary and DGP to immediately provide an action taken report.
Many BJP leaders accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of allowing Islamic congregations in Mosques. The Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah said such activities are in violation of the Central government’s orders issued from time to time under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and are liable for penal action under the Act.
Union Minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo blamed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to allow the opening of a big flower market amid the lockdown to control the COVID-19 pandemic and claimed that it would endanger public safety. “If I say this, I will be blamed for doing politics. But you tell me if this should be allowed to happen. This is becoming an issue as the Mamata Banerjee government has allowed flower, sweet, paan (betel) shops – everything to remain open.”
This gives the wrong message to the public that West Bengal has been able to defeat corona. This makes public presume that COVID-19 is a thing of past,” said Supriyo.
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