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No answers from authorities as Covid protocols take a back seat in bypolls

Shillong, Oct 29: Covid protocols have taken a backseat during elections without any enforcement of the health norms.

Health officials have put the onus of responsibility on the election officers and the organisers of the political rallies to ensure  protocols.

According to a health official, wearing of mask, social distancing and crowd with only one-third capacity of the venue have to be strictly followed during political meetings.

However, the rallies saw packed crowd of supporters (in picture) with hardly anyone wearing masks and people came out in large numbers to dance together after each rally.

Vulnerable children were also brought for the rallies.

Violation of health protocols was witnessed In the past district council polls and the current bypolls.

An election official said in future there should be a mechanism to have less number of participants in the rallies.

Sources said while the political parties are eager to file FIRs against violation of model code of conduct by the rivals, no one bothered to lodge complaints against violation of Covid protocols.

On Thursday, Hynniewtrep Integrated Territorial Organisation (HITO) petitioned the Chief Secretary, Rebecca Suchiang seeking action against  violation of Covid protocols.

HITO pointed out that since April 2020, the state has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis that has resulted in loss of lives and also imposition of several long periods of lockdown in the state among other restrictions, protocols and SOPs for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state and the public has strictly adhered to the protocols laid down by the district administrations and the state government, even at the time of festivals, social events and others and as a result, the outbreak of the disease has remained in control in the state.

However, HITO pointed out that during the campaigns for three constituencies in the state-Mawryngkneng, Mawphlang and Rajabala- the Covid protocols were flouted by the parties.

HITO said for any public gathering  permission was for only 50 persons but for the byelection campaigns, there was no limit and hundreds of people had gathered without masks..

“That moreover, persons from all states and also from within the state are subjected to Covid tests and/or double dosage of Covid vaccine before entering the state but, during the byelections, it is apparent that majority of the crowd/voters were not vaccinated and not tested.

HITO wanted to know whether the Covid protocols laid down by the government are only for the common people and the same are not applicable during the byelections.

HITO asked the chief secretary to look into the matter and take necessary action for flouting Covis protocols during campaigns and also provide details as to whether the voters were vaccinated or not and/or subject to testing before casting their respective votes and ensure that they strictly adhere to the applicable Covid protocols.

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