The Punjab government Monday rejected Maharashtra PWD Minister Ashok Chavan’s statement that it was possible that drivers, who had ferried pilgrims from a gurdwara in Nanded in Maharashtra to Punjab in buses, might have spread coronavirus infection among them. On Saturday, as many as 20 sewadars of Gurdwara Shri Langar Sahib in Nanded, where stranded pilgrims from Punjab had stayed during the lockdown, also tested positive for coronavirus.
During a Facebook Live session, Chavan said: “The drivers from Punjab, who came to Nanded and took the pilgrims back, might have got infected during their journey. These drivers might have also carried the infection to the gurdwara in Nanded and also among the pilgrims during the return journey.”
Chavan said a total of 78 buses with two drivers each had reached Nanded on April 26 and the drivers stayed here for two days. “They ate food in ‘langar’ (community kitchen). There is a possibility that the infection spread then,” he added.
In a statement, Punjab’s Transport Minister Razia Sultana dubbed Chavan’s claim as misleading and factually incorrect.
Sultana said a person holding a constitutional post must not act irresponsibly and give any statement without verifying the facts.
According to Sultana, the first batch of 31 vehicles — 20 buses and 11 tempo travellers — which ferried 860 pilgrims from Sri Nanded Sahib to Punjab were all Maharashtra vehicles with Maharashtra crew. She said the first three groups of pilgrims that came via private buses were arranged locally from Nanded Sahib.
She said the first batch of seven buses sent by Hazoor Sahib Trust started its journey for Punjab on the night of April 23 while the second batch of 11 tempo travelers left on April 24 late night and reached Punjab on April 26 late night.
Further, the third batch of 13 buses carrying pilgrims started their journey to Punjab from Sri Hazoor Sahib from April 25 late night and April 26 early morning and these buses reached Punjab April 27 late night and April 28 early morning, she added
In her statement, Sultana said the buses of the Punjab Government left from Punjab to Nanded Sahib on April 25 and reached it destination on April 27 morning. She said these buses started their journey back to Punjab at night on April 27 and started reaching Bathinda on April 29 afternoon onwards till April 30 early morning.
The Minister said it is a fact that a few private vehicles had left Nanded Sahib even before the buses started bringing the pilgrims and the passengers who traveled in these private vehicles have tested positive, including one of the drivers belonging to Nanded.
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