Centre Directs States, UTs Not to Allow Religious Gatherings Amid Lockdown

IANS

New Delhi: Ahead of ensuing festivals this month, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday directed all the states and the Union Territories (UTs) not to allow any social or religious gathering and ensure strict compliance of lockdown to contain spread of Covid-19.

In a fresh letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla instructed them to inform district authorities and field agencies on the specific prohibitions as mentioned in the consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures.

He also directed them to take "all required precautionary and preventive measures for maintenance of law and order, peace and public tranquillity".

"In view of the ensuing festivals in the month of April 2020, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all states and UTs to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures to fight COVID-19 and not allow any social and religious gathering or procession," a Home Ministry statement said.

The instruction came in view of Baisakhi, and Ambedkar Jayanti which will be celebrated on April 13, and April 14 respectively, while Ramadan will begin April 23.

Appropriate vigil on social media should also be maintained against circulation of any objectionable content, the communication adds.

The MHA has also sought that the respective provisions of the guidelines should be widely circulated for the attention of the public authorities, social or religious organisations and citizens. It adds that for violation of any lockdown measure, action under the relevant penal provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005 and IPC should be taken by the law enforcing agencies.

The consolidated guidelines on the lockdown measures to be taken by ministries, and departments of the Centre, states, UTs for containment of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 epidemic in the country were notified by the Home Ministry on March 24. Further modifications in the guideline were also issued on March 25, March 27, April 2 and April 3 under which no religious congregation will be permitted without any exception and all social, cultural, religious functions or gatherings shall be barred.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic which has so far claimed 199 lives while there are over 5,700 confirmed cases across the country.