The West Bengal Government has once again changed the dates of the statewide lockdown in August, receiving flak from the Opposition parties, which accused the Mamata Banerjee government of making it a “farce”.
This is for the fourth time that the state government has revised the August dates of the lockdown that was introduced last month to check the spread of coronavirus in the state.
As per the latest government order, the new lockdown dates for this month are August 5 (Wednesday), 8 (Saturday), 20 (Thursday), 21 (Friday), 27 (Thursday), 28 (Friday), and 31 (Monday).
The TMC government has retained August 5 in the lockdown calendar despite opposition from the BJP, which has been demanding the lifting of the restrictions, citing bhoomi pujan for the Ram temple in Ayodhya that day.
The government has also retained August 8 and 31, while it has replaced the dates of five lockdown days from its previous order – August 16, 17, 23, and 24 – with August 20, 21, 27, and 28.
While the government has termed the lockdown as biweekly – twice in a week – the latest dates suggest that there would be no lockdown in the second week of August – from August 10 to 16.
“Several requests and appeals were received from different quarters to relax the complete lockdown on certain dates that are coinciding with some festivals and local community-based customs,” the government order stated.
A senior official said that two dates were changed this time for Manasa Puja (August 17) and Parsi New Year (August 17). “The other two dates have been changed on the request from Marwari and Shia communities,” the officer added.
On July 28, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced 10 dates in August for the statewide lockdown. However, within 15 minutes of announcing it, Banerjee held another press conference and reduced the lockdown days to nine and changed some dates since they coincided with Ganesh Chaturthi and Muharram.
Hours later, the government revised the dates again, dropping August 2 and August 9 from the list, saying that they coincided with Balaram Puja and anniversary of the Quit India Movement.
Since the dates were announced last week, the BJP has been demanding withdrawal of the lockdown on August 5, citing bhoomi pujan for the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
“We had no problem when the state government changed the dates for the complete lockdown due to Bakrid. Similarly, the sentiment of Hindus over the construction of Ram Mandir should not be ignored… A complete lockdown on August 5 will prevent those who want to celebrate the historic day of bhoomi pujan for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. This mindset of the TMC government is a reflection of its strategy to turn West Bengal into Bangladesh,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said on Monday.
The TMC hit back, asking the BJP to refrain from communal politics amid the pandemic.
“Everyone should keep in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected West Bengal and the entire country. This is not the time to indulge in communal politics. In Bengal, we have witnessed harmony and brotherhood among all the religions and cultures for decades. We should not disrupt the atmosphere of peace,” TMC leader and minister Firhad Hakim said.
The CPI(M), meanwhile, slammed the government for frequently changing the lockdown dates. “The government has made the lockdown a farce by changing the dates four times. Why, for what reason? Does anyone know? This is going to be a circus,” CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said.
BJP leader Sayantan Basu said, “Mamata Banerjee is the new version of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq. Can a state be run in this way?”
Kolkata: In a bid to spread awareness on Covid-19, the ruling Trinamool Congress and Kolkata Police distributed masks instead of rakhis on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan on Monday.
The TMC distributed six lakh masks, which had the words “Bangla Amar Maa” written on it, across the state.
Extending wishes on Twitter, CM Mamata Banerjee wrote: “After Lord Curzon decided to divide #Bengal, Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur started the Rakhi Bandhan tradition to give a message of unity and harmony. He also penned ‘Banglar Mati, Banglar Jol’.”
Sources said the initiative was taken by the Department of Youth Services and Sports. Thousand of masks were distributed in each of the 342 blocks, 117 municipalities, six municipal corporations, 144 KMC wards and all districts headquarters.
Various police stations under the Kolkata Police jurisdiction also distributed masks among people, urging them to help contain the spread of the disease.
“As part of the Mask-UP Kolkata drive, we distributed about 100 masks to people who were out without covering their faces. I believe it’s more important to distribute masks so that people can protect themselves,” said Karuna Singh, In-Charge of Phool Bagan police station. ENS
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