KOLKATA: Apurva Chandra, the leader of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) in Bengal, wrote two strong letters to state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha on Saturday expressing his concern over the issue of the state government’s non-cooperation with the team. Chandra, in his letter, said the state government gave half-an-hour notice for a visit to hospitals, quarantine centres and containment zones. He also accused the state government of violating the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as the chief secretary issued statements saying senior officers of the state government cannot waste their time accompanying the IMCT.
Chandra accused the state government of not responding to its four letters that were sent since the team landed in Bengal on April 20 and not providing the team PPEs for visit to hospitals and quarantine centres. He also asked Mamata Banerjee’s government whether it would take responsibility for the safety and security of the IMCT or will allow BSF to take action in the absence of police support.
"The Chief Secretary of West Bengal has been widely reported in the media of having said in his daily press conference that the IMCT is free to visit any place and senior officers of the state government can not waste their time accompanying the IMCT. The above stand violates the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs as the State government is expected to provide logistic support and facilitate all field visits," Chandra wrote.
The team leader also sought an official reply from Sinha on a police officer’s act asking the IMCT not to leave the BSF guesthouse campus on April 21, the day after the central teams arrived Bengal. "Whether it is a fact that a DCP of West Bengal police informed BSF officers at BSF guest house on 21.04.2020 that the IMCT can not leave the campus without the permission of the state government as lockdown is in force and the IMCT if it leaves the BSF guest house is only permitted to go to the airport," Chandra inquired in the letter, a copy of which was forwarded to Union Home secretary Ajay Bhalla.
The letter also alleged that the state government provided a junior officer of the state health department, instead of senior officials, to accompany the IMCT.
In another letter, Chandra mentioned about the inmates at Dumurjala quarantine centre in Howrah, apprehended infection as they are being taken in a cramped van for testing. The IMCT had visited the quarantine centre on Friday.
The other central team in north Bengal, too, wrote to Sinha and the divisional commissioner asking them to take immediate measure to ensure stricter implementation of lockdown. Vineet Joshi, the team leader, said in the letter that additional data sought from the divisional commissioner and district magistrate of Darjeeling is still awaited and a meeting sought with the police commissioner could not materialise as discussed.
Firhad Hakim, state urban development minister, said the central team are sending the letters to satisfy their bosses in Delhi.
Derek O’Brien, the national spokesperson of Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, said the IMCT’s real aim is to spread the political virus in Bengal. "As expected, IMCT’s visit to Bengal has served no purpose. Their real aim is to spread the political virus. They are doing it shamelessly, blatantly."