Union Minister of State for Women & Child Development Debasree Chaudhuri was booked on Saturday for allegedly flouting social distancing norms during the lockdown imposed to stop the coronavirus outbreak.
An FIR was lodged after Raiganj municipality chairman Sandip Biswas filed a complaint against the Lok Sabha MP. According to the FIR, Chaudhuri allegedly distributed face masks along with other BJP party workers in the locality that comes under the Raiganj police station.
Sources said Chaudhuri had travelled from Delhi to Kolkata on March 23 and had been under home quarantine. However, she violated quarantine rules on the night of March 31, when she again travelled from Kolkata to Raiganj where she stayed at her rented accommodation. On Thursday, she took part in an “awareness campaign” against coronavirus and distributed face masks to pedestrians at Mohanbati and other nearby areas in Raiganj.
Following this, local politicians, including Chakulia MLA Ali Imran Ramz of the Forward Bloc and Raiganj MLA Mohit Sengupta, filed complaints against Chaudhuri with the District Magistrate. On the basis of the complaint, the district administration started an inquiry into this matter.
When West Bengal Health Department officials tried to put up a quarantine notice outside her flat, Chaudhuri allegedly prevented them from carrying out their duties, sources said.
“We came to inform her that she needs to remain in home quarantine for 14 days. As per rule, we as ‘village resource persons’ were trying to put up the ‘home quarantine’ notice outside her residence,” said Lakhi Rani Rai, a health supervisor in Raiganj.
“But Chaudhuri said we should put it up outside the homes of people who have come from outside. She said she had come here as a minister and is taking precautions,” Rai said.
The district health administration officials later informed the state government that Chaudhuri had prevented the health officials from doing their duty and had refused to cooperate with them. In response, Chaudhuri told local media that protection should be arranged for the district administration officials who monitor people under home quarantine. “They don’t have masks, gloves or sanitisers. They will be susceptible to infections,” said Chaudhuri.
Claiming that she had followed all precautions from sanitising her hands to maintaining social distancing norms, she said: “Unfortunately on that day, a crowd had gathered at the market, following which a few people filed complaints against me.”
“I told the health department workers… If this notice was put up outside my house, others in this flat would face difficulties,” said Chaudhuri.
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