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BJD MLA Booked for Attending Party Leader's Funeral Despite Being Covid+, Apologises for ‘Emotional’ Act

Representative image

Representative image

While MLA Umakanta Samantray was booked, no case was registered against School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash who was also accused of attending the funeral on October 4, violating the Covid-19 guidelines.

Puri: A case was filed against BJD MLA Umakanta Samantray after he attended the funeral of party leader Pradeep Maharathy despite testing positive for Covid-19, police said on Saturday. The case was registered at the Sea Beach Police Station in Puri on Friday night under IPC sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.

However, no case was registered against the party's Nimapara MLA and School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash who was also accused of attending Maharathy’s funeral on October 4, violating the Covid-19 guidelines. Jagannath Sena, a local outfit, had lodged a complaint against Dash and Samantray, alleging that they attended the funeral despite testing Covid-positive.

The two ruling party leaders were also accused of violating quarantine protocols. However, Puri's Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh said that the minister had attended the funeral after remaining in quarantine for 17 days.

Therefore, no case has been registered against him, Singh said. Jagannath Sena claimed that both Dash and Samantray were found to be Covid-positive at the camp held for mandatory testing at the assembly premises on September 27 ahead of the Monsoon session.

As they were diagnosed with COVID-19, the two leaders were not allowed to attend the Monsoon session, which was held from September 29 to October 6, it claimed. Samantray, the MLA from Satyabadi, apologised for the violation.

In a video message, he said he committed a mistake by attending Maharathy's funeral. He said he had rushed to the funeral out of emotion because of his relation with Maharathy.

Samntray had tweeted on September 28, informing about his coronavirus infection. Dash, however, said that he had tested positive on September 12 and completed a 17-day quarantine before attending the funeral.

He claimed that he did not attend the Monsoon session as "mild infection" was detected in the test conducted at the assembly. Maharathy, 65, died at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar in the early hours of October 4. The seven-time MLA from Pipili in Puri district had tested positive for Covid-19 on September 14.

He was discharged from the hospital following recovery but was admitted again as his condition deteriorated, breathing his last after remaining on ventilator support. On Friday, Odisha's Minister of State for Home DS Mishra wrote to Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai, drawing his attention to the alleged violation of COVID-19 guidelines by Bhubaneswar MP and BJP national spokesperson Aparajita Sarangi.

Sarangi was accused of violating the guideline while celebrating her birthday on Thursday. She, however, rejected the allegation and raised questions as to why Mishra was silent on the issue pertaining to the alleged violation by Samantray and Dash.

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