Chief secretary SC Gupta's office clarified that the violators are in no way related to him Credit: Representational image

Gangtok: Despite stringent protocols and screening at the state border, five individuals have allegedly entered Sikkim without following the necessary guidelines and clearly violating the quarantine protocols.

Five members of a family entered Sikkim from the Melli Check Post to attend a funeral in Jorethang, South Sikkim on July 1. The same has created a furore in the public domain with names of Sikkim chief secretary and Director General of Police to have been allegedly involved in the violation.

Gauri Shankar Gupta and four other members of her family including a child have been booked for under relevant provision of Disaster Management Act registered at Jorethang Police Station. They had reached the South Sikkim town from Siliguri, close to West Bengal, where Gupta’s father had expired on June 30.

Chief secretary SC Gupta called for a meeting of officials following his name being dragged into the case, with claims of Gauri Shanker Gupta being a relative. He said, “All five persons have been placed in quarantine at SICB, Karfectar near Jorethang, their samples have been taken, and a case has been registered against them under the DM Act, the action as per norms shall follow,” informed a press release.

Dismissing viral posts on social media, the office of the chief secretary said, “Nothing can be farther from the truth as the Chief Secretary or his family has no relatives either in Sikkim or within a 1000 km radius of Sikkim. The post has been deliberately and mischievously designed to spread misinformation and shared without verifying the truth. It’s an attempt to undermine the State’s tireless effort in handling the COVID 19 situation in the most sensitive and humane manner so far.”

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The Crime Branch of Sikkim Police has already been directed to investigate the matter and to book the persons responsible for spreading fake news, which has created panic and mistrust among the people of Sikkim, mentioned the press release. The fake news also levelled allegations against the state’s Director General of Police A Shanker Rao.

Upon the furore, chief minister Prem Singh Golay called for a meeting giving strict instruction to the chief secretary to investigate in depth the alleged illegal entry with explanation being sought from the Sikkim Police DGP and the investigation report to be filed by Friday. A two-tier investigation, one led by Rinzing Chewang Bhutia, Secretary Coordination, responsible for bringing people to Sikkim, visited the Melli Check Post on Friday. Elsewhere, South DC Raagul K also been instructed another investigation and submit a report.

“Accordingly on the receiving the report, the government shall take appropriate action against all those involved in the illegal entry of the family”, said SD Dhakal, Secretary to the CM. Elsewhere, Office of the Chief Secretary has maintained, “The quarantine protocol has been strictly followed in all cases without exception including the VIPs, senior officers, and their families. There has been no reason or occasion for the administration to relax the entry norms for anybody, including the present case”.

Meanwhile, Gauri Shanker Gupta and her family have been booked under Sections 188, 269, and 270 of IPC and under the DM Act of 2005. A police source informed, “It is a fact that these people entered Jorethang, attended funeral and it appears they misled the police personnel at the check-post.”

The incident drew criticism from political parties alike, with Sikkim Republican Party President KB Rai questioning, “Will the illegal entrants be booked under for Attempt to Murder under IPC section 307, as it was declared by CM PS Golay, months ago?” He reminded how Golay in a press meet on May 6 had stated that a case of attempt to murder would be filed against those who enter Sikkim illegally.

“The question arises on the safety of the people who attended the funeral ceremony, as the state government allowed entry violating the protocols of safety and quarantine facility. It is a violation of Union Government’s guidelines on COVID 19 and is evident that those that can be favoured by the government and the State’s bureaucracy need not follow the rules. It is a blunder on state government’s part,” said Rai.

Holding the Sikkim Police at Melli Check Post and the DGP responsible for the illegal entry, he demanded the police personnel be punished and similar action to follow against the bureaucrats who gave the orders.

“It could also be a case of the top level officials directing the lower level officials at the check post to allow entry. Merely a month ago, there was a lot of hue and cry on the denial of entry to Sushmita Subba and her family, who despite showing the necessary residential proof of belonging from Sajong Basti was denied entry because she showed Aadhar card over Voter Card or COI, proving herself as resident of Sikkim. Sushmita and her family are still at the border, a month has passed since they tried to enter Sikkim. It shows the differentiation of the government where the well-off are favoured while the poor are ignored, where was this provision for them, despite their request for over a month?” questioned Rai.

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