The Correspondent Bureau: Comparing Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s act of bringing back stranded pilgrims from Maharashtra to Punjab to an act akin to Tablighi Markaz chief Maulana Sa’ad religious congregation, the Congress party in Punjab is asking the minister to resign as getting the pilgrims without proper social distancing and quarantine resulted in increasing the state’s number of Covid 19 positive case to above 500. Out of the nearly 3,500 pilgrims that were stranded at Gurdwara Hazoor Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra, 119 have tested Covid 19 positive on their return to the state taking the toll up to 528 cases.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the pilgrims to Punjab by special trains. The Prime Minister accepted the demand of his colleague and 119 pilgrims were tested positive on their return to Punjab last month. Punjab Congress party spokesperson attacked Harsimrat Kaur Badal for getting the pilgrims back as they were being taken care by the Maharashtra government and argues that there was no need to get the pilgrims back. The ruling part in the state has asked the food processing minister to resign from her post.
“What was the need to get the pilgrims back? They were being taken care by the Maharashtra government. Why bring them back? It has increased the number of corona virus cases in Punjab. We demand that she resign for the post of minister in the Central Govt,” says part spokesperson Rana Baljeet Singh Chahal. Talking to The Correspondent, Chahal said they were brought without proper care. “She has not right to continue as minister. She has done an act as done by Tablighi Markaz chief Maulana Sa’ad,” Rana said equating the minister to the one person who is being held responsible for spreading the corona virus in the country by conducting a religious congregation in Delhi and thus spreading the virus.
Incidentally, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu blamed Uddhav govt for allowing pilgrims to travel without screening after 76 were tested positive. “They were under Maharashtra governments observation. It was their duty to implement centre’s guidelines. Their samplings and tests should’ve been done there,” he told a news agency on Friday. The unprecedented coronavirus lockdown, one of the world’s strictest, across India had left many people stranded in places they were visiting. In April, various state governments started bringing back their stranded people and the Centre has also initiated the process of running special trains for stranded people, students and migrant workers and to take them to their home locations. People travelling from one state to another could pose risk and be carriers of the virus, if they are allowed to move without any checks or proper testing and also not adhering social distancing measures.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath helped hundreds of stranded students move from Kota in Rajasthan to their homes in various cities and towns. But the UP government took tremendous care. They tested each student before boarding the buses that were sanitized. After the students got down at their respective locations, they were again tested and those who required medical assistance were provided. The state government also provided food and beverages during the journey. Proper social distancing measures were observed. On every five seats, three students were allowed to travel. However, according to the Punjab Congress it was the responsibility of the Maharashtra government to take care of the pilgrims. It also blames Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal for bringing the infected patients back to the Punjab.
One of the pilgrim, Veer Kaul, said that the Maharashtra Government treated them well by providing them with healthy food and conducted daily medical checkups. However, the pilgrims were brought from Maharashtra and Patna without adhering to social distancing measures, Rana alleges.