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In Indore, Mass Punishment For Mask Defaulters Backfires On Official

Most of the men used cloth masks, a few had causally wrapped a folded handkerchief (File)


Efforts by an administration official in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, to impart a lesson about mask usage have gone completely astray. Cellphone videos from the spot showed the officer had made an occasion of it — not only gathering 20 or more wrongdoers, but also drummers, a policeman and sundry locals.

They were told to proceed down a market road in a typical crouching gait used as a punishment for boys in village schools a long time ago.

As the drummers struck up a tune and the procession progressed, it became clear that the need to maintain social distancing has not occurred to anyone — including the officer.

The young men crouched close to each other as they moved. One who refused to crouch, jigging to the tune instead, was administered a kick by the officer.

No one pointed out the need to avoid corporal punishment — bystanders appeared to enjoy themselves. One even chased after the strange procession to record it on his cellphone.

No one also pointed out the need to wear an N-95 mask or even a double surgical mask as doctors have advised in view of the mutant strains of coronavirus.

Most of the men used cloth masks, a few had causally wrapped a folded handkerchief around their faces.

District authorities have admonished the official, reported news agency Press Trust of India. Indore district collector Manish Singh said the action was “totally wrong… I have scolded him” .

He, however, said citizens who neglect norms in place under the Epidemic Diseases Act due to the pandemic, are inviting punishment.

On Sunday, Madhya Pradesh logged 12,662 new COVID-19 infections, which took the total number of cases in the state to 5,88,368. Ninety-four people died, pushing the number of fatalities to 5,812, health officials said. Fifteen districts of the state have an average positivity rate of more than 25 per cent for seven days.  The state is ranked 14th in the country in terms of infection.

Two Congress MLAs of the state — Brijendra Singh Rathore and Kalawati Bhuria — have died in the pandemic. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had contracted the disease last year.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that the only way to break the chain of transmission is to stop Covid where it is. “My village-Corona-free village”, “My locality-Corona-free locality” and “My city-Corona-free city” programmes should be made successful.

The ongoing curfew in Bhopal has been extended till May 10.

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