Doctors, social workers attacked across India as country fights coronavirus

Police punishing a commuter who violated the lockdown, imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Agartala Photo: ANI

As India battles the coronavirus outbreak, sporadic attacks on doctors, social workers and police personnel have come to the fore raising concerns over their safety and prompting warnings by authorities.

In a related incident, police said on Thursday that an Army jawan allegedly shot dead a woman after her relative included his family's name in a list of people who had returned to their village in Mainpuri district in Uttar Pradesh following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Two women doctors were injured in Indore when a 5-member team of health officials was pelted with stones in Taatpatti Bakhal area on Wednesday while they were trying to trace a person who had come into contact with a COVID-19 patient, police said.

A case has been registered and seven people were arrested, police said, as Indore collector Manish Singh warned that the district administration will not tolerate such incidents and misbehaviour.

Relatives of a 49-year-old coronavirus patient who died at a government hospital in Hyderabad assaulted the duty doctor and the staff alleging negligence, police said.

Telangana Director General of Police M Mahendar Reddy asserted that strong action will be taken against the culprits and necessary measures will be put in place to provide protection to all the doctors and paramedics treating COVID-19 patients.

In Bihar, Police and medical personnel were attacked by locals in Munger town when they visited a locality to collect samples from people suspected to have contracted coronavirus.

Stones were thrown at the quick response team (QRT), comprising policemen and an ambulance carrying medical personnel, when they visited the Hazratganj locality late on Wednesday, said the SHO of Qasim Bazar police station Shailesh Kumar.

The stone-pelting left a police jeep badly damaged and the situation was brought under control by use of force, he added.

Female social workers in Bengaluru and a man in Mumbai were gheraoed and assaulted in separate incidents linked to the survey of people who attended the recent Nizamuddin Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, the biggest COVID-19 hotspot in India, said police officials from the two cities.

According to reports from state capitals, there also have been cases of policemen being attacked while trying to enforce the 21-day lockdown which entered the ninth day on Thursday and while keeping a surveillance on people under home quarantine.

In Bengaluru, community health workers engaged in conducting coronavirus survey in certain minority dominated areas were allegedly manhandled on Thursday, prompting the Karnataka government to issue a stern warning to the offenders.

The workers under the aegis of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) along with health officials were conducting a door-to-door survey in the minority dominated areas in view of the virus spreading through those who returned to Karnataka after attending the Tablighi event.

A visibly upset Asha worker, Krishnaveni in a video message which has gone viral, alleged that a group of health workers who had gone to Hegde Nagar in the city were 'gheraoed' by some residents, their mobile phones snatched and all of them abused.

"They snatched our bags and mobile phones. They did not let us make a phone call. I have been working for the past five years but never ever faced a situation like this, she said.

Condemning the incident, Health Minister B Sriramulu shared the video in his Twitter handle and said, "The doctors, nurses and health workers who toil day and night are like Gods. Respect them. Will not sit idle if they are attacked. Beware!"

In Maharashtra, a man was assaulted by a group in Solapur district for allegedly informing a village official about those who attended the Tablighi gathering in Delhi.

The 56-year-old man had informed the 'gramsevak' of Pimpri village about seven locals who attended the Tablighi meet and also insisted that they be tested for coronavirus, police said.

In Uttar Pradesh, jawan Shailendra along with three others stormed into the house in Alipur village of one Vinay Yadav, who had included his name and that of his family in the list of people who had returned from Kolkata recently.

As the jawan started assaulting Vinay Yadav, his brother Dinesh and sister-in law Sandhya rushed to his rescue. Shailendra opened fire killing the 36-year-old Sandhya on the spot, police said.

An FIR has been lodged at Kurra police station and Shailendra has been arrested, it added.

In an earlier incident in Bihar, four policemen were injured when a group of people owing allegiance to Tablighi Jamaat assembled in a village in Madhubhani district allegedly attacked them as the men in uniform admonished them for defying the ongoing lockdown, a senior official said.

Four persons were arrested and efforts are underway to nab the others, he added.

In Karnataka, the Mangaluru city police said a case has been registered against four persons for assaulting two policemen and a health worker at Nyatarpu village in Belthangady taluk.

Two police constables and a health worker, who visited the house of a person under home quarantine, were attacked when they questioned the man who was roaming around without any precautionary measures, it said.

In Uttar Pradesh, a sub-inspector and a constable were seriously injured when a police team trying to enforce the lockdown was attacked by a group of villagers in Muzaffarnagar district on Wednesday, an official said.

In Delhi, Tablighi Jamaat attendees quarantined at a railway facility in Tughlakabad allegedly misbehaved with and even spit at doctors and healthcare personnel attending to them.

At the quarantine centre, they misbehaved with the staff and even raised objections over the food being served to them. They even spit at the doctors and those attending them and refused to stop roaming around the quarantine facility, according to Northern Railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar.

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