Centre objects to 'violation' of COVID-19 lockdown in West Bengal, writes to state authorities

The Union Home Ministry said that shops of non-essential goods were allowed to open in the state and the police also gave permission to religious gatherings.
A view of the local vegetable market during the ongoing lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic, in Kolkata. (File photo| ANI)
A view of the local vegetable market during the ongoing lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic, in Kolkata. (File photo| ANI)

NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry has warned the West Bengal government for violation of lockdown measures, stating there has been “gradual dilution” of the shutdown in the state, where some non-essential shops are being opened and religious congregations are being allowed.

Reiterating the need for strict enforcement of the shutdown to the state government, the centre has also listed seven areas in Kolkata, mainly Muslim dominated areas where it has found “no regulation” of social distancing norms.

"As per further reports received from security agencies, gradual dilution of lockdown has been reported from West Bengal, with an increase in the number of exceptions being provided by the State Government," the ministry said in a letter to the Chief Secretary and the DGP of West Bengal.

"There is no regulation in vegetable, fish and mutton markets where people have been thronging in complete violation of social distancing norms in Rajabazar, Narkel Danga, Topsia, Metiabruz, Garden Reach, Ikbalpur and Maniktala in Kolkata," the ministry’s letter said.

The centre has also stated that distribution of relief material by political leaders may have spread the coronavirus infection. "It has been reported that police have been allowing religious congregations," the letter read. Referring to the violations, the ministry sought an urgent report from the state on the issue.

Coronavirus, not communal virus: Mamata Referring to the Centre’s suggestion to keep a watch on "some pockets" in Bengal in the wake of COVID-19 threat, Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday that it was not a "communal virus".

"They (the Centre) asked us to keep a close watch on some pockets in the state. You all know what they meant. But I would like to say it is not communal virus, it is coronavirus and a disease," said Mamata, who is often castigated for appeasing a particular community in the state by her rival political parties.

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