Mekedatu padayatra: FIR against Congress leaders for violation of Covid-19 restrictions

By Special Correspondent
Supporters shower flower petals on KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar during the 2nd day of the 10-day padayatra from Mekedatu to Bengaluru to demand implementation of the Mekedatu project, in Dodda Alahalli on January 10, 2022. (Source: PTI)

Karnataka Government filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah and KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, for violating COVID-19 norms during the Mekedatu padayatra.

While Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the government will not discriminate while taking action, the Congress accused the government of attempting to curtail the padayatra.

“FIR has been registered against 30 members who participated in the Mekedatu padayatra. Government is concerned about the health of those who are participating in the padayatra. It is the duty the of health department to check the health condition of the participants,” he told reporters in Bengaluru, urging the participants to cooperate with the health department.

KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, who is leading the padayatra, had refused to undergo a test for Covid-19 when health officials sought his swab sample at Doddalahalli in Kanakapura taluk in Ramanagaram district late on January 9 after he had completed the first day of the padayatra. He had refused to undergo the test accusing the government of fudging COVID-19 numbers in a bid to stop the padayatra.

“There will be no differentiation between those violating COVID-19 norms whether he is a common man or a big leader. Action will be uniform,” the Chief Minister said. Stating that precautionary measures are necessary, Mr. Bommai said that Karnataka had already reported 12,000 cases by January 9 evening, including 9,000 in Bengaluru. “Positivity rate in Karnataka has risen to 6.8%, and it is 10% in Bengaluru. Karnataka is in the third spot in India in COVID-19 cases.”

Justifying the FIR, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that Congress leaders were playing with the lives of the common man. “The Congress is playing politics, and it is not genuinely interested in the water. Our concern is public health. Congress will have to take responsibility if people get into trouble.”

In Shivamogga, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa termed the refusal of Mr. Shivakumar to undergo the test as ‘goonda behaviour’. Speaking to reporters, he said that he had heard about the brazen behaviour of Mr. Shivakumar, but witnessed it on January 9 night.

Defending his decision not to undergo the test, Mr. Shivakumar told reporters in Kanakapura that the government intends to create trouble. “The health official came to test me and declare me as COVID-19 positive. Am I showing any symptoms? I am fit enough to walk 15 days. Come with me and see.” He said that the government intends to blame the Congress for rising numbers

Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, who had dropped out of the padayatra midway on January 9 after complaining of uneasiness, did not take part in the padayatra on January 10 after doctors advised rest since he was running a temperature.

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