Gathering of migrant workers causes setback: President Ram Nath Kovind

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind addresses during CSIR Foundation Day programme, in New Delhi on Sep 26, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) In his second unpresidented communication with all Governors, Lieutenant Governors (LGs) and Administrators, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday expressed concern that gathering of migrant workers and Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi caused a setback to the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

He was referring to the gathering of migrant workers in Anand Vihar a few days after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, and the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin on various occasions in March, both in Delhi.

Both the gatherings, specially the Tablighi Jamaat, have caused havoc across India as it could be the main cause of spread of novel coronavirus or COVID pandemic with many positive cases identified so far.

The President emphasized the need to ensure that no one remains hungry during the 21-day lockdown that will continue till April 14.

In the videoconference from the Rashtrapati Bhavan in which Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu also took part, ways to contribute to the measures taken by the Central government and the state governments in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 was discussed.

It was the second such conference held by the President and the Vice President within 10 days.

In a video conference on March 27, 15 Governors and Delhi LG Anil Baijal had shared with the President their experiences in their respective states and UTs.

On Friday, the Governors, LGs and administrators of 21 remaining states and UTs briefed the President and Vice-President on COVID-19 related efforts.

In the conference there was unanimity that there is no scope for laxity or complacency in fighting the invisible enemy.

In this context, the President noted with concern the incidents of attacks on doctors, health workers and police personnel in some parts of the country.

He wholeheartedly endorsed the Prime Minister’s appeal earlier on Friday morning to all citizens to switch off lights in homes at 9 p.m. on Sunday and instead switch on their mobile flashlights, torches or lamps in an expression of people’s solidarity to fight against Coronavirus.

He, however, cautioned people not to let their guard down and steadfastly adhere to the practice of social distancing.

Taking note of the problems faced by the homeless, the unemployed and the weaker sections of society during this crisis, the President said we will have to be extra sensitive towards their needs.

He invited other participants in the conference to deliberate upon the ways and means to ensure nobody remains hungry.

Acknowledging that this was a big challenge, he added that he was confident the Governors will contribute to the efforts made at the Central and state levels and involve all sections of society.

Moreover, while ensuring that food and other essential items are made available to the needy, care has to be taken that no compromise is made on the question of social distancing, he added.

The President invited suggestions to involve and encourage maximum participation of the voluntary agencies as well as the private sector in meeting the humanitarian challenge.

“In battling the pandemic, our efforts so far have been in the right direction, notwithstanding some incidents, and we are moving ahead with firm determination,” the President said in his closing remarks.

The President expressed appreciation of the fellow citizens for their patience and cooperation and thanked the doctors and all officers and employees who have been serving society

The Vice President who conducted the conference laid emphasis on roping in volunteers of the Indian Red Cross Society, social organisations and private sector to mitigate the plight of the poor.

He urged the Governors, LGs and administrators to persuade leaders from different walks to life to come forward and support the most vulnerable sections of society, particularly farmers, as the lockdown coincides with the harvesting season in many states.

He pointed out that though the Central Government and the State Governments were taking adequate measures to alleviate people’s suffering, it would serve eternal human values for social elites to come forward and support the poor and most vulnerable sections in this crisis.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel started off by saying that universities and medical colleges are collaborating to devise methods to attend to the patients on war footing.

She also pointed out that online classes for students have begun to enable them to continue with their academic session and that the state government was cognisant of farmers’ problems and initiating measures to help them out.

Intervening in the discussion, the President urged all Governors to revive units of the Red Cross Society and take their help.

Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu pointed out that the UT administration has been keeping intensive surveillance and has identified hotspots to preempt the outbreak of disease.

“We faced problems because of the movements of Tablighi Jamaat,” Murmu said.

He, however, assured that the administration is taking care of migrant workers, students and has also set up adequate quarantine centres.

The Ladakh Lt Governor Radha Krishna Mathur expressed concern over rise in cases due to the return of pilgrims from Iran where some of them had been infected, and pointed out that inaccessibility of certain areas and tough terrain make operation rather difficult.

The Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Admiral D.K. Joshi ((Retd.) said that 10 positive Covid-19 cases were related to Tablighi Jamaat. All those who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat event are quarantined after identifying them.

The Chhattisgarh Governor, Sushri Anusuiya Uikey, said that the state government had launched a comprehensive strategy to check the spread of the disease at the earliest.

The Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya said that the state had suitably augmented its capacity to meet any situation arising out of the crisis.

The other governors who gave a briefing about the initiatives in their states include the Governor of Goa, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, and LGs of Puducherry and Delhi.

Those briefed the President and Vice-President in the Conference held of March 27 also provided the latest information from their states and UTs today.

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