Two days after BJP president J P Nadda urged his party leaders to refrain from giving any communal colour to the COVID-19 outbreak, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned that strict legal action would be taken against people spreading “fake news” and “communal hatred” over the pandemic.
“Like coronavirus, there is another virus that is emerging, which is creating a rift in the society — it is the virus of fake news and communal hatred. If anybody circulates fake news or videos with inflammatory content such as notes being smeared with saliva, law will catch up with them. They will not be spared. Don’t do this even for fun,” Uddhav said while addressing the state through social media.
Maharashtra has so far recorded 635 cases of COVID-19, of which at least seven have been traced back to a Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Nizamuddin in Delhi in mid-March. The state has also recorded 32 deaths from coronavirus.
“We have the support and blessings of all the people, including all religions and political parties… So, I won’t allow any attempt to divide our unity in the fight against coronavirus,” the CM said, adding that he was in touch in with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Saying that the lifting of the 21-day lockdown would depend on how well people complied with government directives, Uddhav said, “The lockdown will end on April 14 and what is to be done afterwards depends on the people and how strictly they follow government directives.”
During a recent video conference with CMs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that states should lift the lockdown in phases.
The CM also said no permission would be given for public events in the state. “Till further notice, no permission will be given for cultural, religious and sporting events in the state. Big festivals such as Gudhi Padwa, Ram Navami have been celebrated inside houses. Similarly, people from other religions should also celebrate their festivals indoors.”
Uddhav said that during the video conference with the PM, some CMs had expressed fears of a “Delhi-like event” (the gathering at Nizamuddin Markaz) happening elsewhere.
“The permission for a similar event was denied in Maharashtra. The names of the people who attended the Delhi event is being shared with us daily by the Centre and all have been traced. They have been isolated and quarantined in government facilities. People should come forward to inform us if anyone has been left out,” he added.
Uddhav also advised people to go only to dedicated COVID-19 hospitals if they show symptoms of fever, cold or pneumonia.
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