Aparajita Sarangi’s office sealed for violating COVID norms; case filed against BJD MLA
Puri/Bhubaneswar: A day after the police registered a case against ruling BJD MLA Umakanta Samantray for allegedly flouting COVID-19 norms, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday sealed the office of BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi here on similar grounds.
The case against Samantray was filed on Friday night after he attended the funeral of party leader Pradeep Maharathy on October 4 despite testing positive for COVID-19, while BMC authorities sealed Sarangi’s office claiming coronavirus safety protocols were violated during her birthday celebration here on Thursday.
The BJD MLA, who had tweeted on September 28 informing people of his coronavirus infection, admitted that he committed a mistake by attending Maharathy’s funeral and apologised for violating the norms.
Sarangi, the Bhubaneswar MP and a BJP spokesperson, slammed the BMC for sealing her office at Pallaspalli here for 15 days and vowed to work from the road till it reopened.
A purported video of her birthday celebration showed the BJP leader surrounded by a large number of women not wearing face masks or maintaining adequate social distance, mandatory to contain the spread of the disease. They were also seen singing and dancing at the event.
“It is found in the video clip that there is clear cut violation of the Odisha COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 in terms of bar on congestion (Clause-4), violation of maintenance of physical distancing norms (Clause 4-D), compulsory mask wearing norm (Clause 4-A),” the BMC order said.
The order also said that the office will remain closed for 15 days from the date of sealing and it will be sanitised before opening. The name and address and other details of all the participants of the celebration need to be furnished for conducting COVID testing, it said.
“Action should be impartial. Many BJD leaders also violated COVID norms but no action was taken against them,” the bureaucrat-turned-politician told reporters outside her sealed office.
On Friday, Odisha’s Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra wrote to Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai, drawing his attention to the alleged violation of COVID-19 guidelines by Sarangi.
She, however, had rejected the allegation and asked why Mishra was silent in the case of Samantray and School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash, who was also accused of attending Maharathy’s funeral.
The case against Samantray was registered at the Sea Beach Police Station in Puri on Friday night under IPC Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
A police team on Saturday also visited the BJD MLA’s residence and served him a show cause notice seeking reply on certain issues related to violation of COVID-19 norms. However, no case was registered against Dash as he had attended the funeral after remaining in quarantine for the mandatory period of 17 days, Puri district Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh said.
Dash also said that he had tested positive on September 12 and completed a 17-day quarantine period before attending the funeral of Maharathy.
Maharathy (65) died at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar in the early hours of October 4. The seven-time MLA from Pipili in Puri district had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 14.
Jagannath Sena, a Puri-based organisation, had lodged a complaint with the police against Dash and Samantray, alleging that they attended the funeral despite testing COVID-positive.
Jagannath Sena convenor Priyadarshan Patnaik said they also lodged a complaint at Kharavel Nagar police station in Bhubaneswar against State Tourism Minister J P Panigrahi, who also allegedly attended Maharathy’s funeral though he was also infected with the virus.
“As Puri police did not accept the complaint against Panigrahi, we approached Kharavel Nagar police and hope action will be taken,” Patnaik said.
Panigrahi, however, said that he did not violate any COVID safety rule.