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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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