Karnataka: What actually happened at Padarayanapura, a COVID19 hotspot?

Fear, anxiety, lack of information and awareness about quarantine led to vandalism at Padarayanapura.

Padarayanapura

Gauri Lankesh’s team spoke to the different sources about the incident in Padarayanapura and has tried to cover the issue objectively. The report is covered in two parts. This part 1 of the report.

The Padarayanapura incident which took place on Sunday night has been making a lot of noise in Kannada News Channels. Everyone has condemned this incident irrespective of party affiliations. But the ruling party members, ministers, and supporters have reacted with extreme views.

Bangalore Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao

Bangalore police commissioner Bhaskar Rao visited the spot on the night of the incident. Next day, according to Vijay Karnataka, he gave a statement saying-

“The attack from the suspected was not right. We will take action against them. No official was attacked or injured in the incident, we will deploy more police personnel for the protection of officials working there. Please do not politicise this issue”.

All political parties have condemned the incident and have expressed their support for the Government in this time and have appealed to people not to communalise the issue and have asked for their support in the fight against COVID -19

Home minister Basavaraj Bommai also visited the spot on Monday morning and ordered strict action against the miscreants. Contrary to the police commissioner, Bommai made a statement that Police personnel was also attacked. TV news channels added their own spin to the story and ran the news that Muslim COVID positive people attacked police in Padarayanpura.

Bangalore Corona Hotspots and Padarayanapura

Padarayanapura near to City Market was declared one of the COVID-19 hotspots red zone. The area along with Bapuji Nagar was completely sealed by the civic authorities when 18 people were found to be COVID-19 positive. Entry and exit points were monitored by police personals.

Poor and densely populated neighbourhood

Padarayanapura and the neigbouring area extremely poor neighborhoods, with around 10-15 people living in each house. 5 out of the 7 cases that were identified by April 14th were traced to people living in the same building. Most residents were daily wage workers. The total population of the area is around 45,000. The ward Corporator is Imran Pasha, and the ward belongs to Chamarajapet constituency, the officer being Zammer Ahmed Khan and P.C Mohan is the Lok Sabha MP from this region.

Zameer Ahmed
Zameer Ahmed, Area MLC

The possibility of infection spreading within the members of the region remains despite the seal down measures. 7 new cases were identified on April 18th. These 7 people were confirmed primary and secondary contacts of previous COVID patients. Due to their contact history, as per the current guidelines, it is crucial to quarantine these people ( in designated places like hospitals, hotels or wedding halls).

The quarantine process was going as planned / without any issues

The quarantine procedure was followed as usual. Accordingly, the first 35 people, followed by 15, then 5, and yesterday, 17 people have been quarantined. The local MLC, Imran Pasha was also present to ensure a smooth procedure.  According to him, people were scared and anxious during earlier visits as well but they did not resort to protests; they cooperated well with the medical and BBMP staff.

Due to the lockdown followed by sealing most people rely on food packets provided by BBMP, but BBMP distribution was too little. Though Imran Pasha announced that BBMP and himself have distributed 4000 and 3500 kits respectively, each made of 18 kg of essential groceries. The frustration of sealing operation and the feeling that Muslims are being targeted was there in some of the residents.

The unlucky fate of Padarayanapura

Despite all the growth and development of Bangalore, some areas remain poor and backward. In such areas substance abuse is common. It is quite possible that some of the youth were acting out of withdrawal symptoms.

After 7 new cases were detected on April 18th, the BBMP authorities arrived to take 58 people into quarantine. Although there was no resistance from them in the beginning, due to lack of availability of rooms, etc., the authorities decided to leave and come back on Monday.

During this time, the information regarding quarantining the secondary contacts and overall importance of quarantine were not conveyed properly to the 58 people. The BBMP health official was also not reachable.

As the next batch of the vehicle with 20 people was getting ready to leave, some people started asking if testing on-site and quarantining there itself is a possibility. The argument turned heated and sources say that one person was asked to leave his food in between and leave immediately (this has to be verified).

Notorious activities of miscreant groups

At the same time, some youth groups started yelling and questioning. Some youngsters (between the age of 15 and 25 years as per 3 different witnesses) started gathering in groups. Moving in groups, estimated to be around 100 people, they started removing the barricades and sheet metal used to seal down the area. At one place, they removed/destroyed the shamiana that was being used by the Police personnel, broke tables and chairs, damaged street lights. The Corporator and Police at the scene have tried to stop them and as per Imraan Pasha and some social workers, all this took place within a span of 15- 20 mins.

This was followed by more Police force arriving at the scene and Senior officers ensuring that the situation did not get out of control. Starting from then, until the Home Secretary arrived in the morning, a total of 59 people were arrested. One woman who has been known to be a local Ganja supplier has also been arrested. Sources say that the people who were supposed to be quarantined have now been successfully taken.

 

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