The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought a report from the West Bengal government regarding dilution of lockdown measures that could have resulted in spread of the COVID-19 infection.
The Union home ministry alleged that the shops of non-essential goods were allowed to open in the State and the police also gave permission to religious getherings. The police also allowed distribution of free rations by political representatives, spurring the spread of the virus.The Union Home Ministry called it as instances of 'gradual dilution'.
In an April 10 letter to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, West Bengal, the MHA said it had received reports from security agencies about “gradual dilution of lockdown” with an increase in the number of exceptions being provided by the State government. “Shops selling 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,” the letter said.
Mentioning markets in Rajabazaar, Narkel Danga, Topsia, Metiaburz, Garden Reach, lkbalpur and Maniktala in Kolkata, the letter says, “Significantly, areas such as Narkel Danga are reportedly witnessing more COVID-19 like cases.” The letter added, “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 spread of COVID19 infection.”
The MHA said the activities are in violation of it’s orders issued from time to time under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and are liable for penal action under the Act. “It is requested that strict action be taken in the matter and a report in this regard may be furnished to this Ministry urgently. It is further requested to take measures to prevent recurrence of such violations in future,” the letter said.