Odisha MP and supporters fined for not wearing masks, violating social distancing norms
The MP said she had volunteered to pay the fine after acknowledging the concerns expressed on her conduct.Updated: Jun 04, 2020 23:46 IST
In the first-ever instance of a political functionary being penalised for violating social distancing norms in Odisha, BJP MP from Bhubaneswar Aparajita Sarangi and 20 of her supporters had to shell out a penalty of Rs 300 each for not wearing face mask and adhering to social distance norms.
Bhubaneswar commissioner of police Sudhanshu Sarangi said the MP and 20 of her supporters were fined Rs 200 each for not wearing masks and Rs 100 for not keeping a minimum of 1 metre physical distance during the visit to the house of party leader Jagannath Pradhan on Wednesday. In the photo tweeted by the MP, she was seen standing with 30 partymen, with only a couple of them wearing mask. The MP herself did not wear a mask.
The picture on the MP’s Twitter handle drew massive flak with many pointing out that she was setting a wrong example by her act.
The BJP MP, who took voluntary retirement from the IAS in 2018 before contesting the polls last year, said she had to visit the party leader under very special circumstances. “I fully appreciate & respect people’s concern regarding adherence to Covid-19 norms. It is a good sign. Acknowledging my duty, I have volunteered to pay the fine due,” she tweeted.
On Wednesday, Sarangi had gone to meet Pradhan, who had resigned from the BJP over the announcement of party’s Bhubaneswar district unit president Babu Singh, known to be a staunch supporter of the MP. Pradhan’s resignation was, however, rejected by the party leadership.
The penalty by the Bhubaneswar MP came on the day chief minister Naveen Patnaik advised people to not step out of their homes unnecessarily and wear masks while going out. “Relaxation of lockdown does not mean coronavirus has disappeared. The month of June is crucial for us. Maintain social distancing and follow the government guidelines to combat Covid-19,” said Patnaik in a video message this evening.
Over the last two months, Odisha police have fined thousands of people for not maintaining social distancing norms and not wearing masks in public. On Thursday, at least 15 boys and girls were detained and fined by Bhubaneswar police for making TikTok videos at IG Park in the city for violating social distancing norms.
Recently, Biju Janata Dal MP from Kendrapara, Anubhav Mohanty also faced widespread criticism for not maintaining social distance while standing with migrant workers. Some even asked why he was not in home quarantine for the mandatory 14 days after returning from New Delhi on May 25.