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Odisha: Health workers, police team pelted with stones, abused by Coronavirus hotspot residents in Rourkela, ASHA workers demand security

After the May 4 attack by locals in the containment zone, the ASHA workers had sat on a Dharna on May 5, alleging that the residents of the containment zone had spat on them, and threatened to burn them with kerosene.

On Monday, May 4 residents of a Coronavirus containment zone (Nala Road) in Rourkela, Odisha, reportedly attacked ground-level health workers who had gone to take away the contacts of a 29-year-old female Coronavirus patient for quarantine.

The patient had tested positive for the Chinese virus on May 4 and was subsequently admitted to Hi-Tech COVID Hospital in Rourkela. The team of health workers came under a volley of stones when they went for contact tracing of the said patient. Barricades that marked the points of entry and exit in the Coronavirus hotspot were also damaged.

When the police team went to tackle the situation, the police team was reportedly attacked too. Locals gathered to pelt stones at the police team.

The situation was brought under control only when DIGP (Western Range) Kavita Jalan and Rourkela SP K.Siva Subramani, rushed to the scene and pacified the situation, on receiving information about the incident. The police interacted with the local leaders and also made it clear that such non-cooperation by the local residents would not be tolerated.

Asha and Anganwadi workers attacked, abused by containment zone residents

As per reports, the ASHA and Anganwadi workers, when they had approached the containment zone on May 4, were attacked and abused by the locals. The ASHA workers had sat on a Dharna on May 5, alleging that the residents of the containment zone had spat on them, and threatened to burn them with kerosene. The ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the Rourkela city had staged a protest demanding protection.

Following the protest, the DIG and SP assured the ASHA workers that they will be provided with security when collecting blood samples. The SP, special branch of Odisha Police has ordered to SPs of all districts that wherever there is a chance of ASHA workers being attacked in any containment zone, adequate measures are to be taken to ensure safety and provide a security team.

Tribals upset over Jaamatis hiding

In an April 15 letter written by the Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) to all district SSPs, he had alleged that both the Hindu and Christian tribals in the Sundergarh district have expressed their unhappiness over the fact that several Muslims in the area attended the religious congregation held at the Nizamuddin Markaz between March 13 and March 15.

Following 2 positive cases of Coronavirus found within the Muslim community, the tribals living in the area launched a manhunt to find those Muslims who were reportedly hiding in the village. Coupled with several ‘rumours’ of Muslim men spitting on fruits, the tribals in the area have decided to boycott the Muslim community.

Keeping in mind the need to maintain law and order, amidst the Coronavirus lockdown, the letter called upon all SSPs in Rourkela to remain vigilant and initiate conversations with local community leaders to ensure communal harmony. It is reported that most Coronavirus positive cases from Rourkela were from the Muslim-dominated Nala Road containment zone and the news of Markaz returnees hiding in local areas had created tension among the Hindus and Christians in the area.

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