The country is fighting against all odds to arrest the unprecedented public health emergency that the country has seen as the Wuhan Coronavirus spreads globally. To arrest the spread of Coronavirus, the central government had imposed a nationwide lockdown that was to end on the 14th of April. There are speculations now that the lockdown is going to be extended to arrest the spread of the Chinese Virus. However, amidst the lockdown, the conduct of the West Bengal government led by Mamata Banerjee has been questionable to say the least. Now, the Ministry of Home Affairs has written a letter to the West Bengal government calling out its irresponsibility and the gradual dilution of lockdown that is taking place in West Bengal.
The letter says that as per inputs received from security agencies, gradual dilution of lockdown has been reported from West Bengal with an increased number of exceptions being granted which are in excess of what has been sanctioned by the central government.
As an example, the MHA letter cites lack of control on mutton, fish markers etc functioning unabated and people thronging to such markets in complete violation of social distancing norms set by the government. It also says that non-essential shops have been allowed to function in the state.
The letter cites certain areas like Metiabruz, Raja Bazaar, Narkel Danga, Topsia, Ikbalpul etc. Incidentally, these areas have a high concentration of Muslim population.
It also mentions that “religious congregations” have been allowed in the state and the ration is being distributed by political leaders which may be leading to more infections of the Coronavirus.
Invoking the Disaster Management Act, the letter says that these actions are in violation of the guidelines released by the Ministry and are liable for penal action.
The ministry then demands that strict action be taken and that a report be sent to the ministry regarding the matter.
For some time, it has been suspected that the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government was fudging its data on the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. We had reported on the 6th of April that at least eleven people who had tested positive for the virus had died in the state and yet, the official records of the state claimed that the figure was only three. Now, a report on The Statesmen claims that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation recorded ten deaths due to the virus while the West Bengal Health Ministry led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued to claim that only five people had succumbed to the disease.
The report by Subhendu Maiti on The Statesman says that the list of deaths due to the Wuhan Coronavirus compiled by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation says that ten patients died of the disease across government and private hospitals such as the NRS Hospital, R.G.Kar Medical College, M.R.Bangur Super Speciality Hospital, AMRI Hospitals at Salt Lake, Peerless Hospital and Zenith Super Specialty Hospital. The deceased were buried or cremated as per their religious beliefs between the 23rd of March and 6th of April, the report mentioned.
In a significant incident on the 2nd of April, after an expert committee announced that seven people had died due to the Chinese Coronavirus in Bengal, Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha quickly issued an “explanation” to claim that the number of deaths was in, fact, three. Subsequently, the expert committee was formed to determine the official cause of death. All of this is a matter of significant concern as there appears to be a dedicated attempt underway to fudge data regarding the pandemic in the state. Given the seriousness of the question, it remains to be seen whether Mamata Banerjee and her government decide to course correct now that the cat is out of the bag.