New Delhi: Close on the heels of a Muslim evangelical event in Delhi that sent shivers down the spine of a coronavirus-hit nation, the central government on Saturday, April 11, built up pressure of Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal for "gradual dilution of lockdown" by allowing a congregation of minority community yet again.
In unprecedented and strongly worded letter to the state Chief Secretary and DGP - who are obviously working in confidence and at the behest of self-styled mercurial Chief Minister Banerjee, the Union Home Ministry has said that such activities including allowing of shops those dealing with non essential items, were violation of lockdown norms and "liable for penal action".
Notably, the Union Home Ministry missive was served on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a four-hour long interaction with the Chief Ministers on the issue of lockdown and constant increase in number of patients.
The central government's letter has been endorsed and tweeted by the state's constitutional head - who wrote: "Time to attend to MHA critical aspects on urgent basis so that our fight against coronavirus is not frustrated". He further wrote: "Worrisome issues of dilution of Lockdown, lapses in observance of Social Distancing and religious congregations need to be sternly dealt in public interest".
The centre has also taken exception that the Mamata-led regime chose to give "number of exceptions" during lockdown by allowing shops relating to non-essential items. "....There is no regulation (in West Bengal) in vegetable, fish and mutton markets where people have been thronging in complete violation of social distancing...," said the letter signed by Deputy Secretary Srinivasu K.
"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 missive said.
In Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal, a unique order was issued by the state government allowing sale/take aways of sweets. Apparently the decision was taken after a powerful lobby of sweetmeat outlets flagged concerns over wastage of milk and joblessness of staff.
Many shoppers were seen welcoming the state government's move saying taking sweets is like an addiction for them and that they cannot do without Rasogolla or Sandesh. But all these might have proved costly both to the state and the nation as there has been constant increase in number of Wuhan virus affected people.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later in the day said that the lockdown within the state will proceed until April 30 and all educational establishments will stay closed until June 10.