Odisha MLAs charged for attending funeral despite being COVID-19 positive
On Saturday, a case was filed against BJD MLA Umakanta Samantray after he had attended a funeral despite testing positive for COVID-19. The funeral was of party leader Pradeep Maharathy.
On Friday night, the case was registered at the Sea Beach Police Station in Puri under section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act and IPC sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).
Contradictory to this, no case was, however, registered against Samir Ranjan Dash- the party's Nimapara MLA and School and Mass Education Minister, who was also accused of attending Maharathy’s funeral on October 4.
A local outfit, Jagannath Sena had lodged a complaint against both of them alleging that they had attended the funeral despite being COVID-19 positive. The duo was also accused of violating quarantine protocols.
Although Akhileshwar Singh, Puri’s Superintendent of Police said that the minister had attended the funeral after remaining in quarantine for 17 days, hence no case has been registered against him.
Dash and Samantray were found to be coronavirus positive at the camp held for mandatory testing at the assembly premises on September 27 ahead of the Monsoon sessions, claimed Jagannath Sena. The two leaders were not allowed to attend the Monsoon session, which was held from September 29 to October 6 as they were diagnosed with the virus added the local outfit.
Samantray, the MLA from Satyabadi in a video message, apologised for the violation saying he committed a mistake by attending the funeral. He added that he had rushed to the funeral out of emotion because of his relation with Maharathy.
On the other hand, Dash said that he had tested COVID-19 positive on September 12 and had completed a 17-day quarantine before attending the funeral. The reason for not attending the Monsoon session was due to a "mild infection" being detected in the test conducted at the assembly, he added.
Pradeep Maharathy died at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar in the early hours of October 4. The seven-time MLA from Pipili in Puri district was 64 when he passed away. He had tested positive for coronavirus on September 14. Following recovery, he was discharged from the hospital but had to be admitted again as his condition deteriorated, breathing his last after remaining on ventilator support.