BERHAMPUR: When hotelier Krushna Sahu decided a grand marriage of his son at a star hotel of Gopalpur, little did he know that it would land him and his loved ones behind the bars. Two days after the marriage, a video of the procession - apparently on the hotel premises - left the Ganjam administration red-faced, prompting strong action against the family.
Berhampur Police on Saturday arrested Sahu, his son Dipak and three brother, Binod Sahu, Santosh Sahu and Sibaram Sahu under section 188/269/270 of Epidemic Disease Act and section 34 of IPC. Two vehicles used in the wedding have been seized while Hotel Mayfair, Gopalpur where the wedding took place has been sealed for seven days.
The marriage took place on July 2 at the hotel where the function was allegedly attended by more people than the COVID guidelines permit. While the current situation mandates such social events with just 50 persons in attendance, there were reportedly more people who participate in the ‘baraat’ as well as reception. The viral video showed that participants of the wedding procession did not wear face masks nor did they care for social distancing.
However, none of it came to the notice of the district administration or the police till the video made it to the public domain and became viral. With criticism mounting, Ganjam district administration swung into action. Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Sahu, the police were asked to slap a case against him under relevant sections of Epidemic Disease Act.
Berhampur Police registered cases against the family and arrested the groom, his father and three others.
“We won’t tolerate these type of violations. We again request all to follow social distancing norms & don’t put your life in risk in corona scenario,” the Collector tweeted.
The grand wedding has not only exposed people’s complete disregard to social distancing norms and safety protocol in a pandemic scenario but also the gross oversight by the district administration which has been asking people to stay indoors during shutdown and urging residents from rural areas not to visit urban places.
The action, two days late, also raised eyebrows. “When the marriage procession was on what was the police and NAC officials doing? Is the present action an afterthought? The damage is done. You allowed it. Now go for tracking testing & treating,” former Berhampur Vice Chancellor Prof Jayant Mohapatra questioned.
CPM state secretary Ali Patnaik said the FIR was only to save face. “How such a high profile marriage in 5 star hotel permitted? Filing of FIR only to save face, why not prevented? Ganjam_Admin is only to terrorize common people & collect fine? Will @Naveen_Odisha & @CMO_Odisha act against district admin for grave negligence and utter failure?”, his tweet said.