Punjab Health Minister slams SAD over provocative statements endorsing covid resolutions by some villages
Terms Akali actions irresponsible and suggestive of nefarious design to spread false propaganda amid pandemic
Chandigarh: Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Monday slammed the Akalis for their provocative statements encouraging innocent villagers to risk their lives by inciting them against the state government amidst the Covid pandemic.
Reacting strongly to Daljit S Cheema’s virtual endorsement of the resolutions passed by some state panchayats prohibiting Covid patients from going to hospitals, Sidhu expressed shock at the totally irresponsible remarks made by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader amid the false propaganda being spread some anti-social elements on Covid hospitalisation. It is notable that the Punjab Police has arrested one person for spreading false messages warning people not to go to hospitals for fear of their organs being removed.
Sidhu said the entire propaganda seemed to be part of a nefarious design to undermine the state government’s fight against Covid, of which the Akali leader seemed to have become a part, wittingly or unwittingly.
As part of its holistic and focused strategy, the state government was, in fact, itself actively encouraging home isolation to minimise discomfort to the people with mild or no symptoms, with only critical patients required to be admitted in hospital, the minister pointed out, adding that this was the procedure being followed not just across India but the world over. It was surprising that Cheema seemed to be oblivious of this even though he was a doctor himself, said Sidhu.
Patients who could not go for home isolation could avail private services or free Government ones, as per their convenience and affordability, said Sidhu. Given these facts, Cheema’s shameless support to the Panchayat resolutions was clearly aimed at misleading and misguiding the people, he added.
Sidhu said the state government was completely cognisant of the problems faced by the people and had already withdrawn the hike announced earlier in some health services following representations from citizen groups and health experts. The decision to revoke the hike was taken by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh despite the critical financial crunch faced by the state government only to ensure that people do not face further problems amid the pandemic, he added.
In sharp contrast to the state government’s efforts to do everything in its power to help the people in these critical times, the Akalis were going out of their way to endanger the lives of Punjabis, said the Health Minister. If the situation in Punjab has been much better controlled than in neighbouring states all these months, it is due to the successful implementation of the Mission Fateh that was being managed effectively by leading health experts, he pointed out, responding to Cheema’s unfounded criticism of the Mission.
The Heath Minister said that instead of encouraging people to jeopardise their lives through such inflammatory statements, Cheema and other Akali leaders should be out creating awareness among them about the need for early testing and treatment. The fact was that the Akalis were least concerned about the people of Punjab, which they had shown through 10 years of their misrule and also in the past 3.5 years of being in Opposition, he remarked.
Had they cared at all about the state and its people, they would have persuade the Central Government of which they are a part, to extend financial support to the state, instead of exploiting the pandemic for political gains, Sidhu said. Not only had the Centre paid a measly amount to the state on account of Covid relief, it had actually halted payment of the GST dues, leaving the state and its people to fend for themselves in these difficult times, he added. Yet, the Akalis had not once come out in protest of these actions of the Union Government, he said.