Rajat Sharma

Deal sternly with those who flout lockdown, social distancing norms

akb0210As the number of Coronavirus cases in India crossed the 50,000 mark at 52,935 on Wednesday, hitting a new peak of 3,602 new cases in a single day, India TV received several disturbing videos which are definitely a cause of concern for all of us.

One video relates to the brutal, murderous attack on a Sikh citizen Inder Singh Rana by a group of youths in Tilak Nagar, Mumbai. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, I apologised before showing some of the disturbing visuals to highlight how some misguided youths can resort almost to murder, when asked to wear face masks on the road.

Inder Singh Rana told Salim Siddiqui and his friends to wear masks on the road. Out of pique, Salim came back with a sword and knife along with his friends, and stabbed the man several times. The sword was used to slice his head, but his turban saved him. Inder Singh is fighting for his life in an ICU. His brother Kirti Singh was also injured in the attack.

Police have arrested the culprits. The main accused, I learn, is part of the underworld. He has been booked earlier also. I appeal to all of you not to give a communal twist to the incident. A killer has no religion. In the eyes of law, he is an enemy of civil society.

Inder Singh did not commit any sin. He had only advised Salim and his friends to wear masks. In Mumbai, moving on streets without masks can invite a fine of Rs 2,000. What Salim and his friends did was a crime against society. India TV reporter Rajiv Singh went to the locality and spoke to both the families, who admitted that wearing of mask was the only reason behind this attack.

In Tonk, Rajasthan, a group of youths sitting on the roadside were chewing paan and spitting on the road on Tuesday night. This was objected to by some senior citizens. Soon a brawl ensued, and groups of youths began stoning cars and homes causing head injuries to six persons.

Police intervened and rounded up nearly 20 youths. Police picket has been deployed to prevent communal violence, because the youths spitting on the road were Muslims and those objecting were Hindus.

I would again request to all not to give a communal twist to this matter. This is plainly defiance of lockdown guidelines which prohibit people from spitting in public places. There are 136 Coronavirus cases in Tonk, but the Malpura locality, where the violence took place, is a green zone. The Coronavirus does not differentiate between a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian. Senior citizens did the right thing in objecting to spitting in public places.

Another incident took place in Husnia Masjid Chowk locality in Buldhana, Maharashtra. This locality has a large number of Coronavirus patients, but youths often loiter around without masks on roads after dusk. When a policeman Rajendra Nikhalje objected to this, the youths, one of whom was carrying an iron rod, attacked the policeman, who managed to escape on his bike. Police arrested three youths, including the main accused Javed, while three others are absconding.

Flouting of social distancing norms is being noticed mostly near liquor shops. In Kalyanpuri, Delhi, there was a huge crowd outside a liquor shop, with people jostling to reach ahead. In Gole Market, Delhi, a two and a half km long queue stretched right up to a hospital treating Corona patients.. Paramilitary force had to be deployed to maintain social distancing.

I want to frankly tell all of you: your life and the lives of your family members are in your hands. The government, police, health workers have done their bit and they are doing whatever that is possible. Police cannot keep a 24-hour vigil on lockdown violators.

You have to protect yourselves from Coronavirus, which is not going to vanish in a week or two. It will take a much longer time if we continue to flout social distancing and lockdown norms. The only way to protect yourselves and your children is by staying away from others and wearing masks when going out of your homes.

On the day of Buddha Poornima, let us think of service, sacrifice and self control. This message from Lord Buddha will help us fight the corona crisis.

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