INDIA. Mumbai: The Mumbai police registered offences at seven police stations against Union micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) Minister Narayan Rane on charges of gathering a huge crowd of party workers, in violation of COVID-19 prevention norms while undertaking “Jan Ashirvad Yatra” in the city on Thursday.
The yatra (a tour) is part of a nationwide exercise launched by the ruling BJP with Prime Minister Narendra Modi feeling that the ministers should be engaged with the people. By organizing yatras throughout the country, the BJP aims at contacting people to seek their blessings.
Rane, recently inducted into the Union cabinet began his yatra after garlanding the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj near Mumbai airport at Vile Parle East in northwest Mumbai. The yatra was flagged off by BJP leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Then he paid obeisance to Dr. B R Ambedkar and Shiv Sena Chief late Balasaheb Thackeray at Shivaji Park in Dadar in Central Mumbai. While holding meetings on way, he lambasted Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray saying that instead of meeting people he was functioning from his residence. “The chief minister has “caged” himself, he said.
However taking a serious note of the huge crowds of BJP workers at these meetings, the police lodged offences at different police stations since political meetings/gatherings are banned under the notifications issued under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005 are still in force in Maharashtra.
The offences were registered under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code which states that a person disobeying the promulgated order can be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with a fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both. The offences were registered at Vile Parle, Kherwadi, Mahim, Shivaji Park, Dadar, Chembur, and Govandi police stations.
In another incident, the offences were registered in Dombivali, Kalyan, and Thane, against the Union minister of state (MoS) for Panchayati Raj and Bhiwandi MP Kapil Patil for violation of COVID-19 prevention norms.
The first information report (FIR) was registered against the organizers of an event in Kopri in Thane. The offence was registered at the Kopri police station on August 16, against two corporators and two other local functionaries of the BJP under IPC 188, 269, 270 (negligent, malignant acts likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
In Kopri, a stage was set up where BJP activists gathered in a large number without wearing masks or maintaining social distance. Hundreds of them welcomed Patil, while members of the Agri and Koli communities danced and sang songs. The organisers had also not taken permission for the event, a police officer said.
Similar offenses were registered against BJP office bearers and workers at Manpada police station (Dombivali) and Khadakpada and Mahatma Phule Chowk( Kalyan) police stations, for not not adhering to social distancing norms in the functions organised in support of Patil.
Other Union Ministers-–Dr. Bharti Pawar and Dr. Bhagwat Karad are also touring other parts of Maharashtra “to interact with beneficiaries of the Union government’s schemes and create awareness about the steps taken by the government for the welfare of the citizens in the state”. However, these meetings are turning out to be a political battle between the BJP and the “Mahavikas Aghadi Government” in Maharashtra.
In all 43 union ministers are undertaking the yatras to visit 212 Lok Sabha constituencies in 29 states and 265 districts to seek “blessings” of the people across the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that all the ministers in the council of ministers must be engaged with the people and these yatras are being undertaken with the aim that citizens can feel the ministers as their own.