Ordinance to protect frontline warriors

If not having fallen overdue but it is quite timely that the need of a stringent law was felt to be there to prevent the tendency among some misguided and misled but delinquent minded persons who dare to assault our frontline warriors grappling with the deadly COVID-19 epidemic . Looking to the spurt in incidents in misbehaving and even attempting murderous attack, as in Moradabad recently, on Doctors, nursing staff and others, the cabinet approved promulgation of an ordinance whereby any type of assault on COVID-19 frontline warriors will now be punishable offence with the accused liable to face a jail term of between three months to seven years and a fine ranging between Rs. 50000 to Rs. 5 lakh. Not only this, the offence is non-bailable which denotes the will of the Government in dealing tough with the offenders. The ordinance has been as a result of amending an existing Act as old as 123 years, known as Epidemic Disease Act 1897. Was there any alternative except bringing in this ordinance as while the country is fighting an unprecedented threat to the citizens’ lives on account of the outbreak of Corona virus epidemic, there were instances of aggressive treatment, misbehaving and onslaughts ashamedly having occurred at many places against those who were risking their lives to save the infected people . Instead of feeling beholden to these brave saviours, instances of abuses, attacks and even causing grievous injurious have led to providing a legal shield to these frontline workers and now it would not be something like conventional court cases for the accused but those booked under the Amended Act would be entitled to no bail and instead were to face fast tracking trial and verdicts within a year.
While India has earned a place of reckoning among the comity of nations, especially those currently fighting the virus, as having the grit and capacity to manage the crisis very efficiently , at the same time assault on Doctors, nurses and others engaged on frontline has dented our fair image internationally which cannot be tolerated. The trouble had been crossing all limits and needed to be trimmed and dealt with sternly. Even, tired of such an unwarranted behaviour witnessed at many places, medicos were feeling discouraged and were expressing indignation as well, rather preparing to register protest under the auspices of Indian Medical Association. This country is known for non violence , humility in social behaviour and a culture of thanksgiving even for a small and frivolous favour not to speak of those who were sacrificing their comforts, sleep and even rest in order to serve the ailing and the afflicted ones and in the process , we observed how many contracted the infection themselves causing unfortunately death too to a few of them.
What is required is to make awareness of this ordinance with all the seriousness it deserved and invoke its provisions ruthlessly in instances where the amended Act was violated even slightly . State and UT Governments needed to make the salient provisions of the Act duly displayed in hospitals and other centres where the quarantine or intensive care treatment or testing formalities were being undertaken. That would send signals to those unmannerly and ungrateful elements who could not make a distinction between a saviour of humankind and an ordinary worker even the later was entitled to full dignity , honour and protection. Spitting, defecating in corridors, making lewd gestures and passing contemptuous remarks, throwing away lunch and food plates on those who were serving the afflicted ones too should be covered under the ordinance. Such instances, prima facie, appear to be handiwork of and a consequence of a conspiracy to derail the structure of fighting mechanism against the dreaded virus and the ordinance under reference would neutralise the despicable designs of such elements.
Doctors, nurses, personnel manning pathological labs, municipal workers, police personnel, ambulance vehicle personnel and the like are frontline soldiers whom the nation is proud of and providing to them every sort of protection, security and due respect and honour was not only the duty of the Government but that of each one of us. Let us not falter in our duty and responsibility and only then, shall we emerge among the top ones to conquer COVID-19 fully to its finish.

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