The effigy burning ceremony of Ravana in Kharagpur, West Midnapore has landed in controversy after thousands gathered in the field ignoring the Covid-19 protocol. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries including- District Magistrate Roshni Komal, Trinamool Congress MLA Pradip Sarkar, and others.
The Kharagpur ceremony is one of the oldest and politically significant considering a large number of Hindi and Telugu speaking communities in the region. Even though the state is reporting fresh cases of Covid-19, the organiser- Trinamool Congress MLA Pradip Sarkar decided to host the event, stating that ‘it’s connected with the emotion of the local people.’
“People here are very sentimental about the event (Ravan Dahan). Therefore, we have decided to organise it, while maintaining all the COVID-19 protocols,” Trinamool Congress MLA Pradip Sarkar had said.
However, the ground reality was different, thousands of people including children thronged into a local field to witness the effigy burning. While some put up their masks in their heads, some tugged it inside their pocket. And the people who were wearing masks failed to follow social distancing.
“We highly condemn the event because it is certainly going to increase the Covid-19 figures in the district. Thousands of people gathered in the field and the majority of them violated the coronavirus norms. This is purely a political programme of TMC and the presence of senior police officers and DM is highly condemnable,” BJP president, West Midnapore, Samit Kumar Das said. It is a matter of shame that the Covid-19 norms were violated in front of senior police officers and the District Magistrate, he added.
Recently, the Calcutta High Court has barred the revellers from entering Puja Pandals besides imposing other rules for the organisers to prevent the spread of virus.
Senior TMC leader Ajit Maiti, who was also present at the event, said, “I went there as a guest. It is true that more people attended the event. We did not expect that so many people would be gathered there. But all maintained the Covid-19 norms and one should not highlight the issues unnecessary as this is a matter of the sentiments of the local people.” No one is questioning the BJP Mahila Morcha who violated the COVID-19 norms while playing ‘sindoor khela’ at Salt Lake in Kolkata, he added.
The District Magistrate Roshni Komal who was also present at the event was seen without a protective mask. When contacted, Komal (who herself is a doctor), said, “I am happy to see people came here to witness this event. People are emotionally connected with the event and it’s good to see people are overcoming the fear of corona and attending the event.”