Several officials in Punjab’s Mansa, Faridkot and Bathinda districts have been put in home quarantine after a number of government representatives they had attended Independence Day functions with, tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In Mansa, Cabinet Minister Gurpreet Kangar tested positive on Saturday — hours after hoisting the national flag, while Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti — who had hoisted the flag in Faridkot — tested positive on Sunday. On Monday, Bathinda SSP Bhupinder Singh Virk tested positive, due to which Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who had hoisted the tricolour in Bathinda in the former’s presence, had to self-isolate.
Prominent officers who are in home quarantine include deputy commissioners, senior superintendents of police (SSP), additional deputy commissioners, district public relation officers, the Bathinda municipal commissioner, executive officer of the municipal council of Faridkot and Mansa, many sarpanches and even residents of villages these politicians had visited before and after unfurling the national flag. All will be tested after five days.
On Monday afternoon, Manpreet Badal tweeted, “Our SSP from Bathinda has been tested as Corona positive and I met him on 15 August for the Independence Day function. On medical advice and for the safety of my family and workers I am going in self quarantine and as such no public meetings will be held by me during this period.”
Kangar, who is from Rampura Phul constituency of Bathinda, Bhatti from Malaut constituency of Muktsar and even Manpreet Badal had been spotted without masks at the functions — a topic of much discussion on social media. So much so, that many even wrote to Manpreet Badal on his Facebook page and Twitter handle where he announced that he was going to be in self-quarantine.
As a result of these new cases, public dealing in the three districts has come to a virtual halt.
In all these functions, gatherings of around 50-70 people were witnessed, a violation of Covid-19 guidelines which allow not more than 50 to gather in one place. Apart from hoisting the national flag, all politicians had also attended a number of programmes throughout the day. For example, Gurpreet Kangar had inaugurated a smart school in Kotra village. All of them had distributed smart phones to Class 12 students on August 12. Manpreet Badal had inaugurated various development projects which included a retail vegetable market, newly constructed parks etc.
More politicians test positive
Meanwhile, SAD MLA from Dakha constituency of Ludhiana Manpreet Singh Ayali, Talwandi Sabo Congress in-charge Khushbaaz Jatana and former SAD MLA from Malaur Harpreet Singh Kotbhai also tested positive on Monday. Jatana had organised programmes in Talwandi Sabo on Saturday as well as Sunday while Harpreet had joined many in the SAD fold on Friday and Saturday. All have asked people who came in their contact to get themselves tested.
Public events continue
Apart from the Independence Day functions, politicans continue to meet the public, Functions with more than 50 people are still being organised events like inaugurations, instead of opting for virtual appearances. For politicians in Opposition, dharnas and protests are being organised on a regular basis.
SAD had organised a huge dharna in Khanna on Friday for which an FIR was also registered. BJP staged a protest at district level on Monday protesting over the hooch tragedy. Farmer unions are also doing gatherings every now and then. On Friday, even students who have to appear for board exams via open school sat on a dharna in Sangrur for 8-9 hours.
“People are fed up with the system and hence they have no choice but to come on roads. What should they do, when they are not being heard?” said AAP’s national executive member and Talwandi Sabo MLA Baljinder Kaur, who was part of students’ dharna on Friday.
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