Indore, April 14 (IANS) Indore's journey from the country's cleanest city to the corona capital of Madhya Pradesh has run parallel to that of the one man Shivraj Singh Chouhan ministry that runs the state. Before the new government took charge, Indore had not registered any positive coronavirus cases.
A day after the BJP replaced the Kamal Nath government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Janata Curfew. That evening saw hundreds of people gathering at the iconic landmark of Rajwada to hail the Prime Minister with the noise of thaalis and taalis on his call to cheer corona warriors. The government and the ruling party shrugs this off lightly.
Crucial time to tackle the outbreak was lost because of the change in administration. As it is, the then Health Minister Tulsiram Silwat was among 22 Congress MLAs who had raised a banner of revolt against then Chief Minister Kamal Nath and subsequently quit.
The city is a major transit corridor, with at least 70 flights touching Indore's airstrip daily. What is disturbing is that health officials and workers were unable to identify the source of the infection. Many of those who have tested positive don't have international travel history. in the past two weeks, the restrictions have been enforced rigidly.
The BJP would like everyone to believe that the blame should be placed solely at the door of Tablighi Jamaat whose members arrived from Delhi and suddenly the scene changed. It could be partially true. But soon it has become clear the government and the ruling party can't afford to be on the same page on the issue.
Tuesday's explosion of 83 coronavirus cases at Indore out of 127 overall in the state says it all. Indore also accounts for 37 out of the 53 deaths in the state.
Indore witnessed the death of two doctors in two days last week. The Chief Minister knew them and was effusive in homage. One of them, Dr Shatrughan Panjwani, was reportedly treating many people in a crowded clinic and succumbed to the virus. He had thrown caution to the winds. On Tuesday, one of his assistants was found in the Tikamgarh district infected by the virus. How did he travel to Tikamgarh hundreds of kms from Indore when no travel was being allowed? If he had travelled even before the restrictions were enforced, then the virus must have spread far and wide.
Four days after Chouhan took charge transfer orders were issued for Indore Collector Lokesh Jatav and Deputy Inspector General of police Ruchivardhan Mishra.
Amid this political drama, the mechanism to combat the virus, plan to establish labs for testing samples and create isolation wards in hospitals for suspected coronavirus people remained disrupted.
Indore has also been the transit point for thousands of daily wage earners from Madhya Pradesh who have travelled to Gujarat and have returned to their homes after the lockdown in huge crowds on all modes of transport. Some were packed tightly in small auto rickshaws travelling through hundreds of kilometres. The government refuses to acknowledge this as a possible cause for the spread of the virus.
Fake messages on social media instilled fears in the minds of the minority community. Instead of opening up about the symptoms of the disease, they clammed up.
Tatpatti Bakhal, densely populated with minority community people became a hotspot for the disease and a flashpoint for communal violence. This is where stones were pelted at a team of health officials who went to screen suspected coronavirus cases. "This was not our first visit to the place," said Dr Trupti Katdare, who was among those who had been attacked. The police came in the nick of time and rescued them. Another doctor Zakia Khan who was also injured in stone pelting has been a regular visitor in the past. Trouble makers had charged the atmosphere in the area.
The state government has taken strict action and has arrested several people in connection with this attack. The team did not face any problem when it visited the area again, but the negative publicity about the area has caused a big scar.
Chief minister Chouhan does admit there was delay in assessing the situation in Indore. A week after. he acknowledged that the city is still struggling to come to terms with the crisis.