By L.S. Herdenia
Alarmed over the rise in the number of coronavirus affected cases in Madhya Pradesh, particularly in Bhopal and Indore, state government has taken several measures to control the situation. The measures include enforcement of ESMA, or the Essential Services Maintenance Act, sealing of Indore and Bhopal borders and decision to recommend the continuation of total closure of Schools, Collages, religious places and malls. According to reports reaching here, six deaths took place in Indore on a single day. Forty new cases were detected including 11 in Bhopal.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan decided to enforce ESMA which empowers the state government to ensure uninterrupted essential services and supplies. “In view of public interest and for better management during Covid-19 outbreak, the government has invoked ESMA with immediate effect,” tweeted Chouhan on Wednesday.
Now government employees involved in essential services cannot go on strike or take leave. People who are involved in supply of essential commodities and services also have to abide by the rules.
Masks and sanitizers are covered under essential goods and hoarding and black marketing will lead to severe legal action under the Act, said officials. In Madhya Pradesh the government has declared transportation, police, revenue and urban development departments under ESMA.
Intensifying the lock down, the CM said: “Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain which have the highest corona infections, must be completely sealed. Areas of other districts infected with Covid-19 should be too nobody can come in or out of these areas. The district administration should ensure supply of essential commodities and services of all departments and their resources should be taken in Corona-related work”.
Chouhan cautioned people not to conceal information about the virus. “If you are hiding facts about corona virus infection, you are inviting death. Standing instructions have been issued to register FIR against such people. Also, strict action should be taken against anyone who misbehaves with staff engaged in corona work” reiterated Chouhan.
Congress however questioned the propriety of enforcing ESMA. Former Chief minister Kamal Nath and Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha questioned the reason or invoking ESMA when all doctors, medical staff, police personnel and the administration is working together”.
Nath tweeted “At this time of the corona virus epidemic, all government doctors, medical staff, officers and employees are working day and night in the interest of the people of Madhya Pradesh by performing their duties with utmost sincerity. In this hour of crisis, all are one. But the decision to invoke ESMA in the state is beyond comprehension.”
Rajya Sabha MP and eminent lawyer Vivek Tankha also expressed his disagreement on Twitter. He tweeted, “On the call of the honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all officers, employees and doctors are working 24×7 irrespective of the lack of basic facilities. There is not a single denial of work – then what is the reason behind ESMA?. ESMA is invoked during strike or violation of Section 5”.
Chief Minister also warned Tablighis to show up. He gave a 24-hour ultimatum to Tablighi Jamat members to show up for testing or face criminal charges.CM Chouhan appealed to people to follow the corona virus lockdown saying “Talk to the sofa, if you have to, but stay in home”.
With large chunk of the new cases across the state being Tablighi member – 20 in Bhopal itself – the CM took a tough stand on those hiding travel history or symptoms of the disease.“The administration has quarantined everyone who attended Nizamuddin Markaz and identified the people from abroad who have been hiding in mosques. Even after this, if someone is hiding somewhere, then I request him to inform the administration within the next 24 hours” tweeted Chouhan. “If they don’t, they will face criminal charge for endangering the security of the state and the country. The administration will register criminal cases against them and appropriate legal action will be taken” CM Chouhan warned.
In all 107 Indians and several foreigners have been identified across the state who attended the Tablighi Jamat congregation in Nizamuddin. All of them are in quarantine. Police are looking for at least 25 more participants from the state said sources. After attack on Police personnel in Bhopal similar incident took place in Indore yesterday. A Police team came under attack in Indore’s Chandan Nagar – a Covid-19 centre- leaving a constable injured. In response Police moved in with force and nabbed six suspects, four of whom have been booked under NSA.
This is the third attack on cops and health workers in the state in a week – On April 1, two women doctors and their police escort came under heavy brick batting in Indore’s Tat Patti Bakhar area. On April 6, two cops were stabbed and slashed by a mob in Bhopal’s Talaiya. NSA has been invoked in all three cases.
A Police team accompanied by members of Nagar Surkasha Samiti, a formal body of civilian volunteers assisting police, was enforcing lockdown when it came under attack in Chandan Nagar of Indore on Tuesday night.
The team came across some people roaming in the streets. “Constable Surendra asked them to go home and not loiter around during curfew restrictions. But they turned violent and pelted stones at the team” additional SP Manish Khatri said. Outnumbered, the team had to retreat.
Police responded swiftly. Personnel from three police stations searched the area and identified six people involved in the attack.
Within an hour, a team of over 100 policemen was sent to the spot and the accused were identified and paraded in the area. “We are taking this very seriously. All six accused have been arrested and NSA is being invoked against four of them” said IG Vivek Shrma adding that two of them were sent to Satna jail and two to Jabalpur jail. (IPA Service)