Their presence can be a source of COVID-19 spread, says a Puri-based outfit in its police complaint.

A Puri-based outfit on Monday lodged a complaint against Odisha School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash and BJD MLA Umakant Samantray for allegedly participating in a funeral procession at Puri despite testing positive for COVID-19.

Mr. Dash and Mr. Samantray were among BJD leaders who attended the last rites of former Minister Pradeep Maharathy who died on Sunday.

“Despite testing positive, both the Minister and the MLA participated in the procession. Their presence could be a source of COVID spread. Action should be taken against the two leaders for violation of COVID protocol,” Priyadarshan Patnaik, Convener of the Jagannath Sena, said after lodging the complaint at the Seabeach police station.

“While Swargadwar, the holy cremation ground for Hindus in Odisha, was prohibited for last rites by the Puri district administration in the wake of pandemic, the same prohibition was not followed in the event of demise of former Ministers,” Mr. Patnaik said. Top Puri district officials were also present around the cremation ground on Sunday.

Surge in cases

While both Bhubaneswar and Puri had seen surge in COVID cases in recent weeks, thousands of followers of the departed leaders were allowed to participate in funeral processions taken out in Bhubaneswar, Pipili and Puri. The instruction of maintaining social distancing and wearing masks had gone for a toss in the presence of both the Bhubaneswar and Puri police.

“We have received a complaint with regard to violation of COVID protocol. A station diary has been registered. We are investigating,” said Puri Superintendent of Police Akhileshvar Singh.

“I had tested positive on September 14. If one calculates the number of days since I contracted virus, it would be already 21 days. Neither have I violated any guideline nor did I endanger anybody’s life,” said Mr. Dash.

Mr. Samantray had tweeted about testing positive on September 28.

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