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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Complaint lodged against Andhra MLA Hafeez Khan for obstructing quarantine of Tablighi Covid19 suspects

News reports have pointed towards a spike in Covid-19 positive cases in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh putting the entire blame on the lackadaisical attitude of the political class and administration in dealing with the pandemic. Legal Rights Organisation (LRO) has launched a complaint with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) against Kurnool MLA Hafeez Khan for his role in allowing the spread of this dreaded virus by pressurising the administration to turn a blind eye to the functioning of a private hospital. Media reports have cited that this is one of the major reasons for an entire town being declared as a ‘red zone’. The letter points towards the sudden spurt of Covid-19 cases in the district and has demanded a high level inquiry by the ministry citing suspicious circumstances and lackadaisical attitude of government officials in dealing with this massive pandemic thereby putting several lives at risk.

LRO has requested a high-power team of Central Government to visit the district and conduct an inquiry as to how administration kept repeatedly ignoring warning signals, mishandling the crisis by suppressing facts and giving in to pressure from various quarters including powerful politicians. The organisation has presented several facts to support their argument and strengthen the grounds for enquiry by a high-power committee. They have even cited news reports which have brought forth the role of MLA Hafeez Khan and Delhi Markaz.

As per the letter reputed Telugu daily Andhra Jyothi has reported that the huge increase in corona virus cases in the district in general and district headquarters in particular is due to the massive political interference. As a result of this not only has the entire town come under the Red zone but also the district is topping the charts in the state. In addition, it has emerged that a private nursing home/hospital was allowed to function disregarding all rules related to corona virus issued by the central authorities. Media reports have pointed fingers at MLA Hafeez Khan for exerting pressure on administrative authorities to allow the functioning of private nursing home. How KM Hospital was allowed to function in violation of rules should be investigated.

The second most important reason for the massive rise in Covid-19 cases in the district is the disregard of quarantine rules by Tablighi Jamaat attendees of Delhi Markaz event. The role of Hafeez Khan is crystal clear here as well. After the Markaz event in Delhi, those who returned were advised to undergo quarantine. However, the MLA even exerted pressure on administrative officials and prevented them from shifting Tablighi Jamaat members who attended the Delhi Markaz event to quarantine centres. ABN Andhra Jyothi has reported that Tablighi Jamaat members were secretly treated by the private hospital on the insistence of the MLA Hafeez Khan. It has been learnt that the hospital issued a notification on 16th April asking all those who visited the hospital between 20th March and 16th April to immediately get in touch with the administration for a medical check-up as one person in the hospital has tested positive. Reports put the estimated number of people who visited the hospital between the said period, including those from the neighbouring Gadwal district, at close to 4000.

It was not until the situation started to get out of hand that the administration began taking steps to control the epidemic. Till then, as pointed out in the letter, they were simply busy in filing FIRs and criminal cases against common citizens who shared videos of strangers found hiding in mosques and their evacuation. The administration took the evacuees elsewhere and completely denied the news besides pursuing the cases against commoners with vengeance.

The letter clearly mentions how lives of ordinary citizens have been put at risk in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana due to lack of transparency in the district administration’s interaction with the public and its succumbing to political pressure and minority appeasement. LRO has placed all these facts and urged the ministry to conduct an investigation through a high power committee as the administration has failed in its duty.

(Featured Image Source: Sakshi Post)

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