Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Police have intensified their investigation into the attack on a medical team conducting tests for Covid-19 in Moradabad district, and arrested 17 people, including 10 men and seven women.
Amid all this, Dr S.C. Agarwal, a member of the team that was attacked, has told the media that a viral video about alleged mistreatment and mismanagement at quarantine centres might be the main factor that provoked the mob.
Agarwal also alleged that local residents had many misconceptions about the Covid-19 crisis, which could have resulted in their violent behaviour.
The police are now looking into Agarwal’s statement.
What the doctor said
Agarwal said he and his team had gone to Moradabad to test relatives of Sartaj, who had died of the novel coronavirus on 13 April.
“We had successfully managed to take Sartaj’s wife and his daughter into quarantine for further testing. But things went awry when we reached a place near Nagphani police station to collect his two sons, brother and nephew,” he said.
“We had already talked to them on the phone. When we reached there, people started to assemble near the ambulance in the form of a mob. Some of them started to say that during quarantine period, food is not being provided to persons of a specific community, and they are left to starve,” Agarwal said.
“Some people said there are several videos circulating in which quarantined persons are saying that they are not being provided meals. Hearing all this, other people in the crowd got agitated and started to shout maro inhe (beat them up),” the doctor added.
“We tried to convince them but nobody was ready to listen to anything. The mob surrounded us from all sides and started to lash us. Stones were also pelted from nearby buildings. It was a horrendous scene. Several of my colleagues and I got injured.”
Strict action against those spreading rumours
Speaking about Dr Agarwal’s claims, Moradabad city SP Amit Anand told ThePrint that the UP Police will also investigate the viral video angle.
Anand said strict action will be taken against all those involved in spreading rumours. “There is no lapse or negligence taking place at the quarantine centres. All persons are being provided adequate food. Some miscreants are spreading false rumours through social media and the police will surely take action against them,” Anand said.
The SP added that the police are investigating the case with the help of mobile phone footage and CCTV cameras, and that a drone camera has also captured a video of stones being pelted from a house. “In this footage, some women are also seen. It is also being investigated,” he said.
Child rights body gets involved
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also expressed apprehensions of there being a deliberate ploy to engage minors in attack plans in this incident.
The NCPCR has appealed to the police to identify those who instigated children, and has asked them to take action under Section 83 (2) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has also tweeted about this.
मुरादाबाद में #CoronaWarriors पर हुए हमले के विडीओ रिपोर्ट्स में नाबालिगों को शामिल किए जाने की आशंका पर @NCPCR_ गम्भीर है, #SSP @moradabadpolice @amitpathak09 से चर्चा कर आपराधिक कृत्य में बच्चों को शामिल करने वालों को चिन्हित कर #JJAct की धारा 83(2) कार्यवाही अनुशंसित की है। pic.twitter.com/ztKLijZnAC
— प्रियंक कानूनगो Priyank Kanoongo (@KanoongoPriyank) April 15, 2020
UP CM Yogi Adityanath has issued orders to invoke the National Security Act in this incident. The state government also plans to extract fines from the accused persons for damaging public property.