Covid-19: States asked not to allow religious gatherings during lockdown
The Union home ministry has directed all states and Union territories not to allow any religious or social gathering in view of the upcoming festivals, a government order said on Friday, appealing to citizens to strictly follow the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
States/UTs have been asked to inform district authorities and field agencies on prohibitions of the lockdown and take all measures for the maintenance of law and order, peace and public tranquillity, according to the government order. The Centre has also asked authorities to keep tabs on social media and act against objectionable content.
“Clause 9 & 10 of the Consolidated Guidelines (on the lockdown) state that no religious congregation will be permitted without any exception and all social/cultural/religious functions/gatherings shall be barred,” the order said.
For the attention of the public authorities, social/religious organisations and citizens, guidelines of the lockdown should be widely circulated. People violating the guidelines will face penal action under relevant provisions of the law, the order said.
“There are several festivals in the coming week. In this regard, several community leaders have come forward & are convincing their respective communities to assist the government in strictly implementing lockdown,” a spokesperson of the home ministry tweeted.
While Shab-e-Barat was on Thursday, Good Friday was observed on April 10. Festivals such as Baisakhi, Rongali Bihu, Vishu, Poila Boishakh, Puthandu, Maha Vishuba Sankranti too fall in April.
The 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to end on April 14. Even though the government is yet to take a decision, there are indications that the restrictions could be extended. Some states have already done that.
A senior Indian Police Service officer from Uttar Pradesh, who didn’t wish to be named, said the state was deploying adequate number of personnel at places of worship ahead of the festivals, and drones were being used to the monitor movement of people in such areas. “Anybody violating the lockdown will face strict action,” he said.