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Covid norms thrown to the wind as CR Paatil begins Saurashtra visit

When asked if the twin events amount to violation of Covid-19 guidelines and if the administration had taken cognisance of them, the SDM said: "They had planned a bigger event, which was not allowed.

By: Express News Service | Rajkot | August 20, 2020 4:52:46 am
cr patil, gujarat bjp president, cr patil Saurashtra tour, covid-19, coronavirus, indian express newsGujarat BJP president CR Paatil at Sardar Patel Chowk in Talala of Gir Somnath district, Wednesday. (Photo by Sardarsinh Chauhan)

NEWLY APPOINTED BJP Bharatiya Janata Party president CR Paatil kicked off his maiden Saurashtra tour with two major gatherings in Gir Somnath district and a roadshow on Wednesday but local government officers said that he had not sought prior permission from them even as leaders of the ruling party maintained that such a permission was not required.

Paatil was welcomed by party vice-president Gordhan Zadafia and a host of BJP MLAs as he arrived at Yatri Suvidha Kendra in Somnath temple complex near Veraval in Gir Somnath district, where he was felicitated. Addressing the party leaders and workers, Paatil appealed to local party leaders to win all the four Assembly seats in Gir Somnath district in the 2022 election.

Paatil was rushed to hospital in Veraval after fumes from a confetti-firecracker bruised his eye. However, there was no major injury and he returned to the meeting soon.

Before arriving in Somnath, Paatil, who had boarded a special bus from Gandhinagar late on Tuesday evening, made a stopover at Talala town in Gir Somnath and garlanded the statues of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and BR Ambedkar at Sardar Patel Chowk. Hundreds of cars and bikes accompanyed the BJP leader’s bus.

At Talala, Paatil was greeted by hundreds of party workers and supporters at the public square, halting vehicular traffic briefly. He also welcomed Gopal Hadiya, a sitting Congress member of Talala taluka panchayat, and a few other local Congress workers to the BJP by offering them saffron scarves.

After visiting the Somnath temple, Paatil left for Junagadh where he was to hold a meeting with elected leaders and leaders of the party organisation. His bus was again trailed by hundreds of party workers in their cars and two-wheelers.

In Surat, Paatil claimed to have cancelled a grand reception organised for him on July 24 on his return from Delhi, after he saw visuals of the crowds. On Wednesday, Paatil’s official Twitter handle was posting videos and pictures of the reception showing people holding up nearly a kilometre-long BJP flag on a main road in Gir Somnath, and halls crowded with supporters.

Local government officers at Talala and Somnath said the party had not taken any prior permission. “They have not taken any permission. They had asked for loudspeaker permission at Talala but we didn’t give it… Here (in Somnath), they did not ask for permission,” Saryu Zankat, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Veraval, told The Indian Express.

The state government has banned large public gatherings in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. When asked if the twin events amount to violation of Covid-19 guidelines and if the administration had taken cognisance of them, the SDM said: “They had planned a bigger event, which was not allowed. The moment we came to know, we tried our best. Police are supposed to take action… We have asked the collector what to do next.”

Zankat added that while meetings are prohibited as per Covid-19 norms, movement of convoys of vehicles is permitted.

Phone calls and text messages to Gir Somnath Collector Ajay Prakash and Superintendent of Police Rahul Tripathi didn’t elicit any response. Zaveribhai Thakrar, president of BJP’s Gir Somnath district unit, said permission was not required for the twin event. “Party workers came in their own vehicles to Somnath… for which permission was not required. Regarding the meeting in the hall, no permission is required for events organised on private premises,” said Thakrar.

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