Protesters being evicted by police personnel and Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans in Agartala

Agartala: Residents of Kunjaban in Guwala Basti area of Agartala on Sunday blocked the VIP roads protesting against the decision of the Tripura government to shift COVID-19 patients to the Bhagat Singh Youth Hostel which was recently converted into a 300-bed COVID-19 treatment centre.

Hundreds of locals, especially women, staged a protest demanding the immediate shifting of COVID-19 patients from the facility.

Speaking with reporters, Radhakant Tiwari, one of the prosters, said that the road was blocked with the intention to meet the higher-ups as we are not sure who has the authority to speak on their removal from this area.

“We are here to protect ourselves from the spread of coronavirus. We also want them to be treated but in a better place, but not here. All the administrative officials and a large population of people reside in this area. The health department should immediately take them out from the hostel,” Tiwari said.

Another resident alleged that health workers and people living in the youth hostel came out of the gate to purchase things from shops. “Anybody may get infected with the coronavirus, if the authorities do not take appropriate steps to restrict their movement,” the resident added.

However, the protesters were evicted by the police and Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans from the spot for blocking the VIP road illegally and detained a number of them for gathering in large numbers, thereby violating social distancing protocols.

Speaking with reporters, Sadar sub-divisional magistrate Ashim Saha said that the residents of Guwala Basti had blocked the road demanding the removal of the COVID-19 care centre from this area.

“The residents themselves were not maintaining the social distancing and that is a threat for all other persons. A number of people are living beside the COVID-19 hospital in Govind Ballabh Panth Hospital area. It is not that the patients will come out of the treatment centre in the locality,” Saha said.

Saha also said that the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Youth Hostel is located more than 200 to 300 metres from the locality and there is no point of protesting. “This is not acceptable and we have apprehended a few residents while dispersing them from the road. Everybody has to understand the situation and help the administration in a moment like this,” he added.

Bhagat Singh Youth Hostel was declared as a COVID-19 treatment centre on Friday by chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb. Now, with the new policy announced by the ministry of health, all the asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are now being shifted to the facility.

At present, Tripura has a totally of 430 beds for the treatment of the COVID-19 patients, which include a 100-bed dedicated COVID-19 hospital for treatment, 300-bed COVID-19 care centre and 30-bed dedicated health centre.

Meanwhile, a total of 136 cases have been reported in the state, out of which two patients have recovered, while two were transferred to North Bengal and Assam’s Karimganj administration.

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