The FIR against Bains was registered on a complaint by Dr Rajesh Bagga, the Ludhiana civil surgeon, who sought legal action saying that a video is being widely shared in which the Atam Nagar MLA is purportedly heard asking people not to wear masks during the pandemic.
The case against the MLA has been registered under the sections 188 (disobedience to the order duly promulgated by public servant), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of IPC, section 3 of Epidemic Diseases Act and section 54 of Disaster Management Act, at division number 8 police station. A legal opinion was also sought on the issue by the Ludhiana Police before lodging the case against the MLA, a police statement said.
In his complaint, the civil surgeon said that instead of behaving responsibly, the elected representative was running a campaign to mislead, misguide, and misinform people regarding coronavirus. Bains’ video clip is being played on various social media platforms, leading to the creation of an atmosphere of confusion among the public, he said.
Bains had organized a ‘Janta Darbar’ outside Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in Ludhiana on Saturday where he “heard the complaints of common people” regarding overcharging and fleecing by hospitals, harassment being faced by patients and their relatives among others. Police said that it was being probed if the video was shot there.
Inspector Jarnail Singh, SHO, division number 8 police station, said, “We have marked an enquiry to the DMCH police post to check if the video, in which MLA can be heard telling people not to wear masks, was shot outside the hospital. FIR has been registered on the basis of the video submitted to us by the civil surgeon who is the complainant in the case.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Punjab Police said that in his legal opinion, Ludhiana district attorney noted that Bains is giving statements about the “severity and magnitude” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Bains is claiming that coronavirus is a bogey created by the government to perpetuate its power by misleading people and (he is) asking them not to wear masks,” the district attorney opined and added that “even though Bains is an elected MLA, who is representing a section of citizens of Ludhiana, he is misleading people by forbidding them to wear face masks, which have been made compulsory by the central government to protect the health of the citizens”.
“Already so many lives have been lost due to the Corona pandemic in the country as well as in Punjab, the attorney pointed out in his report, concluding that Bains is thus willfully endangering the health and safety of the people in the state by inciting them to violate the directions, norms and guidelines laid down by the central and the state governments under the Disaster Management Act, Epidemics Act etc. Even the WHO has advised wearing of face masks,” the district attorney further noted.
While Bains could not be contacted for comments, his brother Balwinder Singh Bains, also an MLA said, justified not wearing masks. “Even during the Vidhan Sabha session, we did not wear masks. According to the experts, coronavirus can spread even if you wear masks and it, in fact, suffocates a person. There is no WHO guideline which mandates wearing mask and even in the US none wore masks during pandemic. This government has made wearing masks mandatory just to mint money from people by issuing challans and to keep their mouths shut. It was the duty of health minister to visit DMCH and hear grievances of the people but instead my brother went there. That is why government got furious because he did what health minister should have done. They can register as many FIRs against us as possible but we will keep raising voice for the people,” Balwinder Singh said.
Lashing out at the Punjab government, he asked Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to explain the logic behind night curfew. “Does coronavirus get alive only after 7 pm,” he asked.