The Tripura police Sunday lathi-charged a group of people protesting the setting up of a Covid-19 hospital at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Yuba Awas in Agartala city.
Residents of Goalabasti, Bholagiri and adjoining areas had set up a blockade on the busy VIP Road in front of the new 300-bed hospital Sunday afternoon, demanding to speak with authorities. They claimed the hospital posed a major health risk to people living in nearby areas and demanded to know why it wasn’t set up somewhere outside residential areas.
Radhakant Tiwari, one of the protesters, said, “We are protesting to protect ourselves from the coronavirus outbreak. We want all patients to be properly treated, just not here. Many administrative officials and civilians live in the area. If the outbreak spreads, who will take responsibility? We feel the health department should immediately relocate the hospital from the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Youth Hostel.”
Another agitator alleged many healthcare workers and other people from the hospital came out to purchase things from local shops, putting residents at the risk of exposure.
A large contingent of Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans and Tripura Police had to be deployed in the area to disperse the mob. Many protesters were detained for illegal obstruction of the VIP road.
Sadar Sub-divisional magistrate Ashim Saha later said that the agitators had violated social distancing protocol during their protest.
“The protesters themselves didn’t maintain social distancing, posing a threat to everyone. GB Panth Hospital too is located close to human habitation in the city. Patients aren’t supposed to come out in civilian areas. Besides, the youth hostel in question here is 200-300 meters away from the residential locality. There’s no point to the protest,” the official said.
He couldn’t specify the number of detainees from the protest venue.
Local MLA Dr Dilip Das criticised the protest, and said the agitation was undesired, since medical personnel are working in the most hazardous situation during the Covid-19 outbreak to save people.