Bhubaneswar, Oct 5 (PTI) A police complaint was lodged against two lawmakers of the ruling BJD, one of them a minister of the Naveen Patnaik cabinet, in Puri on Monday for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocol during the cremation of ex-MLA Pradeep Maharathy here.
It was lodged by the Jagannath Sena, a local outfit, who alleged that the minister and the MLA had attended the cremation of Maharathy, who died on Sunday, despite testing positive for COVID-19.
The complaint was lodged at the Sea Beach Police station in the pilgrim town against Odisha Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash and BJD MLA Umakanta Samantray, the police said.
Both of them had tested positive for COVID-19 and violated the guidelines by coming out of their homes or hospital isolation before the completion of the stipulated 21 days, the outfit's convenor Priyadarshan Patnaik said.
Though entry into the Swargadwar crematorium, considered to be among the holy ones by the Hindus, is banned for anyone outside Puri district due to COVID-19 pandemic, the administration allowed the two leaders who hail from other places to attend the cremation, he alleged.
The two lawmakers pose danger to pulic health, he claimed.
'While a poor man (from outside the district) is not allowed to perform the last rites of his near and dear ones at Swargadwar because of the pandemic, why is the same rule not applicable to the ruling party politicians?,' Patnaik asked.
Also though the COVID-19 guideline prevents the presence of more than 20 people at at a cremation or funeral, it was not followed in this case, Patnaik alleged.
While Dash tested positive for the second time on September 27 and was therefore denied permission to attend the on going monsoon session of the Assembly, Samantray in his twitter post on September 28 announced his coronavirus status.
The Puri district magistrate-cum-collector Balwant Singh and superintendent of police Akhileswar Singh were also present at Maharathys cremation at Swargadwar, where guard of honour was accorded to the departed leader.
The Puri district collector did not respond when PTI contacted him about the alleged violation of the coronavirus protocol in his presence.
Dash claimed that he had participated in Maharathy's cremation 21 days after he had tested positive for COVID-19.
I have not violated any COVID-19 rules. My swab samples for COVID-19 test were collected on September 12 and the report of September 14 was positive. I was then admitted to Ashwini COVID Hospital and was discharged from there hospital on September 21, he said.
The minister said he had undergone the COVID-19 test in the premises of Odisha Assembly on September 27 ahead of the monsoon session and the test result showed mild infection for the virus. 'Therefore, I did not enter the Assembly. As I had completed 21 days since the first COVID-19 test, I attended the cremation of Pradeep Maharathy as per the government's COVID-19 rules, Dash told PTI.
Samantray could not be contacted immediately.
eline was not followed in this case.
Sea Beach Police Station inspector in-charge Shankarsan Dali said We have received the complaint. We are examining the allegations before registering a case in this regard. PTI AAM KK KK