Magisterial Inquiry Against Tripura BJP MLA For Visiting Covid Facility Without Permission

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The Tripura government has ordered a magisterial inquiry against BJP MLA Sudip Roy Barman for visiting a COVID Care Centre here allegedly without authorisation, officials said on Wednesday. The inquiry was ordered by the state Home Department, which asked the District Magistrate of West Tripura, Sandeep Namdeo Mahatme, to submit the report within 15 days, they said. Wearing a PPE kit, the former health minister visited the COVID Care Centre set up at the Bhagat Singh Youth Hostel on Sunday and distributed fruits among the patients. Deputy Secretary A Deb, in the order issued on Tuesday, asked the district magistrate to inquire on "three aspects nature of breach of security, risk to health of self and others, including inmates, and fixing of responsibility on all those who connived or facilitated, and nature of connivance or facilitation". A suo motu case was also filed against Barman, who was removed as the health minister in May last year, under the Epidemic Diseases Act at the Capital Complex police station, a police officer said. Following the visit, the administration also asked Barman to go on quarantine but he refused, calling it a "conspiracy" to get him exposed to coronavirus. The district magistrate served a memo to him on Monday, stating that he entered the COVID Care Centre "unauthorisedly" and exposed himself to COVID-19 patients there. He put himself at a high risk of developing the disease and due to this, he would be put in institutional quarantine for seven days, followed by seven days of home quarantine, the memo said. In his reply, Barman said that he feels the district magistrate wrote the memo "under duress" and claimed some group with vested interest hatched a conspiracy to get him exposed to coronavirus, putting his life at risk by quarantining him with other COVID-19 patients. The district magistrate said that the matter was referred to him by the Health Department and he would send Barman's letter back to the department. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Barman said his visit was not unauthorised as prior information was given about it to the Director of Health Services and Medical Superintendent of Govind Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital, the apex dedicated COVID facility. He said he visited the centre after seeing on social media a clip of a pregnant COVID-19 patient complaining about lack of doctors and the facility being unhygienic. Barman said that he visited the centre only after wearing a full-body PPE kit.