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7 held for pelting healthcare workers with stones in Indore

A technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Indore police on Thursday arrested seven persons for allegedly chasing away and pelting healthcare workers with stones on Wednesday while they traced contacts of a man who had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier.

“A case against unidentified persons was lodged on Wednesday,” Vivek Sharma, Inspector General of Police, Indore Zone, told The Hindu. “We have received videos and some local inputs based on which we are identifying the accused.”

The case was registered under Sections 353 [Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty], 336 [Act endangering life or personal safety of others], 145 [Joining or continuing in unlawful assembly, knowing it has been commanded to disperse] and 269 [Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life] of the Indian Penal Code, said Karni Singh Saktawat, incharge of the Chhatripura police station, under which Tatpatti Bakhal, where the incident occurred, falls.

Watch: healthcare workers pelted with stones in Indore
 

Two teams comprising doctors and Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) workers were visiting the locality, when locals started pelting them with stones. One of the two doctors said, “I am really scared, not even in the condition to speak. We went there for screening as directed by the Health Department. We have been going there for three days as we got contact history of a positive case there.”

Initially, the residents were answering their questions with cooperation, but then “they started pelting us with stones. If not for the police personnel who accompanied us, we wouldn’t be alive.” She said they couldn’t recall who all were there, as they felt “really scared when stones landed at their feet and had a narrow escape in a car.”

“Such incidents certainly demoralise doctors and paramedics who’re out there to trace contacts,” said Rahul Rokade of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, Indore.“It is a ridiculous situation wherein health workers who’re fighting the corona battle are being put to such a situation.”

Stating that families of health workers were worried about their safety now, Dr. Rokade called upon the district administration to provide security to the frontline workers.

Attempting to dispel misgivings about contact tracing among locals, he explained: “There should be no fear of contact tracing because it is better for locals as it would help in identifying the suspects within the community.”

Earlier this week, health workers were threatened by locals in another incident. In Bhopal last week, several journalists, who exhorted the government to screen participants of a press conference where a journalist who tested positive later was also present, threatened and shooed away health workers who visited them with ‘Do not visit, home under quarantine’ posters. They contended such information displayed publicly would cause them embarrassment in the neighbourhood.

Indore alone has registered 75 of the 98 positive cases in Madhya Pradesh, and five of the eight deaths owing to the illness. With cases spiralling, a palpable fear has swept across the State’s most populous city, putting scores of health workers at risk as numbers surge and doctors scramble to locate the source of the outbreak locally. Most patients do not have travel history or direct contact with those affected.

Rumours being spread about a minority community being particularly targeted amidst the COVID-19 outbreak were causing mistrust between authorities and locals, opined Anand Rai, part of the COVID-19 combat team. “There should be a dialogue first to reassure the community about screening,” he said.

For several days, he said, there were rumours being spread on social media that authorities would pick locals, huddle them into buses and inject them with the virus. “We need to educate locals, make them understand why they need to be confined to a 14-day quarantine in order to contain the virus spread. They should be counselled,” he added.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 7:28:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/7-held-for-pelting-healthcare-workers-with-stones-in-indore/article31234898.ece

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