Gujarat: Villagers take out religious procession for coronavirus 'protection'; 83 held

HIMMATNAGAR: More than 80 people were arrested after a social media video showed them participating in a religious procession for performing a ritual to “protect” their village from the scourge of coronavirus in Prantij taluka in Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district, police said on Tuesday.

Over a hundred people from Lalpur village took out the procession on May 22 to perform a ritual with a belief that it will “prevent coronavirus” from affecting their village, a local police official said.

He said some members of the procession beat drums while others, including women, carried a ‘kalash’ or a small pot filled with sacred water on their heads.

Police came to know about the incident on Monday after a video went viral on social media, said Prantij police inspector PL Vaghela.

“We have registered an FIR against 28 identified and a hundred unidentified people for participating in the procession in violation of the government’s notification regarding the coronavirus pandemic. We arrested 83 people in the last two days,” the officer said.

A case was registered against the participants of the procession, including women, under the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, and under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, he said.

A similar incident had occurred in Navapura village in Ahmedabad district of the state earlier this month wherein a large number of women turned up at a religious event to “eradicate coronavirus”.

The state’s COVID-19 tally increased by 3,187 to touch 7,91,657 on Monday, while the toll rose by 45, the lowest since April 10, and the recovery count by 9,305, an official said.

The state has so far witnessed 9,621 deaths and 7,13,065 people getting discharged, which is 90.07 per cent of the total caseload, he added.

The number of active cases is 68,971, of which 648 are on ventilator support, the official informed.

“Ahmedabad reported 474 cases, followed by 455 in Vadodara, 275 in Rajkot, 267 in Surat, 140 in Junagadh among other districts. Ahmedabad also accounted for eight deaths, while the figure was six for Surat, five for Vadodara, three for Rajkot etc,” he said.

An official release said 98,745 beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group were inoculated on Monday, taking the total number of those covered in this segment to 7,82,588.

The state government said it had procured 16 lakh vaccine doses worth Rs 52 crore for the 18-44 segment, with plans afoot to cover one lakh people in this age group daily.

With 2,17,513 people getting vaccinated on Monday, the number of doses administered in the state so far rose to 1,56,01,373, the release added.

Gujarat’s COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 7,91,657, new cases 3,187, death toll 9,621, discharged 7,13,065, active cases 68,971, people tested so far – figures not released.