Bihar MLA Narendra Kumar Neeraj booked for removing barricade at containment zone
Legislator claims he did so to answer urgent call of nature
PATNA: Ruling party Janata Dal (United) legislator in Bihar Narendra Kumar Neeraj alias Gopal Mandal has been booked for allegedly removing a barricade at a containment zone near Naugachhia railway station in Bhagalpur. He claimed he had an “urgent call of nature”.
“Humko bahut jor ka paikhana laga tha aur bhookh bhi [I had a great urge to relieve myself and also felt hungry],” the third-term MLA was heard saying in a viral video on social media when asked why he removed the barrier.
He further said in the video that ambulances too had to cross the area for getting patients admitted to hospitals in Bhagalpur.
“I acted on humanitarian grounds as well”, he said. He removed the barricade on May 4.
Mr. Mandal represents the Gopalpur constituency in Bhagalpur district and he is also known to be a strongman of the area. He has of late taken on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the NDA government on several issues.
However, when the video went viral on social media of him removing the bamboo barricade from a containment zone and explaining the reason for it, the local administration ordered a probe.
“An FIR has been lodged against the MLA at Naugacchia police station under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and a probe was initiated on Friday”, said senior police official Dilip Kumar.
Bihar currently is in lockdown till May 15. The State has been witnessing a surge in the number of COVID-19 positive cases for the last 10 days, with over 10,000 new ones amid an acute shortage of oxygen, anti-viral drugs and beds in hospitals, with hefty charges levied by ambulance providers on patients.
Mr. Kumar recently had urged people to defer their wedding functions for sometime in view of the surge in cases. In Patna, most marriage functions have been postponed but in districts they have been held with a limited number of guests.
Members of the transgender community on Friday came out on to streets in Gopalganj district to protest against the lockdown that has put off marriage and other functions and raised the issue of their “livelihhod”.
“Wedding and other functions have been put off due to lockdown, pushing the members of third gender community virtually on the brink of starvation. We have nothing to eat and have exhausted all the savings and it is also not known for how long the lockdown will continue. The question of our survival has started staring on our face”, Sandhaya Kumari, a visibly angry member of the community, told journalists on Friday at Mirganj in Gopalganj.
Meanwhile, the Patna High Court has sought the State government’s reply on steps taken for providing oxygen to patients.
The court also directed the State government to constitute a five-member expert committee to monitor the pandemic situation and also inform from when vaccination would start for people between the age group of 18-44 years.
The State government, meanwhile, has asked officials to act tough on those selling anti-viral COVID-19 drugs and oxygen cylinders at exorbitant rates. On Friday, a director of a private hospital and two of his accomplices were held for selling Remdesivir drug at an exorbitant rate of ₹25,000.
Some ambulance services providers too were arrested in different districts for charging exorbitantly from COVID-19 patients for short journeys.
The vaccination drive in the State, though, has slowed down as private hospitals have stopped providing jabs to people for want of vaccines. However, over 7,000 prisoners above the age of 45 years have been vaccinated across prisons.
Bihar on Friday reported 13,466 new Covid-19 positive cases with 68 deaths. The active caseload has gone up to 1,15,065 and total deaths to 3,139.
Along with Patna district, positive cases are being reported from Muzaffarpur, Munger, Nalanda, West Champaran, Vaishali, Bhagalpur and Gaya districts.