Women force HP minister to return from Lahaul-Spiti for violation of Covid norms

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By: Express News Service | Shimla | Published: June 9, 2020 9:22:31 pm

Women force HP minister to return from Lahaul-Spiti for violation of Covid norms Markanda was reportedly trying to enter Kaza in a vehicle when members of the Kaza Mahila Mandal blocked his entry. (Twitter/@DMarkanda)

A group of tribal women Tuesday did not allow Himachal Pradesh Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda to enter Lahaul and Spiti district’s sub-divisional headquarters Kaza for allegedly “violating Covid-19 guidelines framed by the local residents”.

The women held a protest near Kaza circuit house and raised slogans against the administration, forcing Markanda, who is also the MLA from Lahaul and Spiti, to return towards neighbouring Kinnaur district. Markanda, who also holds the portfolio of tribal development, could not be reached for his comment, possibly due to poor network connectivity in the remote district.

Markanda was reportedly trying to enter Kaza in a vehicle when members of the Kaza Mahila Mandal blocked his entry.

Mandal pradhan Dolma Devi said that Markanda has been frequently entering and exiting the valley without following quarantine guidelines, thereby posing a risk to the locals. It also sets a bad example for other people returning from outside the district, who may not follow quarantine, she said.

The tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti is currently the only Covid-free district in the state. Even before the state government imposed a curfew, district residents had barred the entry of outsiders into the area fearing the spread of the coronavirus. Since the onset of the pandemic, several villages in the state have reportedly barred the entry of outsiders, including native residents returning home from other parts. In one instance in Nahan, a woman refused to open the door of her house when her daughter returned from Haryana, and instead informed the police who placed her under institutional quarantine.

VIP trouble

In April, Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma had faced criticism after returning from Delhi amidst the lockdown. When Kinnaur SP Saju Ram Rana’s children returned home from Delhi’s Karol Bagh “to attend the last rites of a close relative”, area MLA Jagat Singh Negi accused the government of allowing influential people to return home at a time when those stranded outside were denied entry.

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