Odisha Minister, MLA booked for attending Maharathy’s funeral. Here’s why

Puri: A complaint has been lodged against School & Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash and BJD MLA Umakanta Samantray for attending funeral of Pradeep Maharathy by violating COVID-19 rules.

Samir Dash and Umakanta Samantray were recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

The complaint has been lodged by the Jagannath Sena, a local outfit, at the Sea Beach Police Station in Puri.

Despite being tested positive for COVID-19, the two BJD leaders had attended the funeral of Maharathy at Swargadwar cremation ground in Puri, yesterday, the Jagannath Sena Convenor Priyadarshan Pattnaik alleged.

“Even as entry into Swargadwar crematorium is banned for everyone due to COVID-19 pandemic, the bigwigs in administration attended the funeral of Pradeep Maharathy. Both Samir Dash and Umakanata Samantray have been recently tested Coronavirus positive. How was the duo allowed to participate in the funeral? They may become the superspreaders and account for new infections, Pattnaik told media reporters today.

While a poor man is not allowed to perform last rites at of his near and dear at Swargadwar during the pandemic, why the same rule is not applicable to the politicians? The funeral of Tirtol MLA Bishnu Charan Das, who was not the resident of Puri district, was held at Swargadwar in July and that had also violated the administration’s rule, he said.

He demanded action against both for breaching the COVID-19 rules and putting thousands of lives at risk.

However,  Minister Samir Ranjan Dash in his self defense said that he participated in the funeral of Maharathy 21 days after he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have not violated Government’s COVID-19 rules. My swab samples were collected on September 12 and the report came out positive on September 14. Then, I was admitted to the Ashwini COVID Hospital and was discharged from the hospital on September 21.  Again, I had undergone the COVID-19 test on premises of Odisha Assembly on September 27 ahead of the Monsoon session and the test result showed mild infection for the virus. Therefore, I was not permitted to enter into the House. As I had completed 21 days  of the first COVID-19 test as per the Government’s COVID-19 rules, I attended the funeral of Pradeep Maharathy,” Dash said in a statement.

Notably, Minister Samir Dash, Satyabadi MLA Umakanta Samantray and former Lok Sabha MP Prasanna Patasani were present during funeral of BJD strongman and Pradeep Maharathy at the crematorium.

The 7-time MLA from Puri Assembly Constituency and former minister Pradeep Maharathy was laid to rest with full state honour yesterday.

District Collector, Puri Balwant Singh and SP Akhileswar Singh laid floral wreaths on Maharathy’s body and police presented a guard of honour.

Maharathy’s son Rudra Pratap Maharathy lit the funeral pyre and his daughter Pallavi Maharathy was also present. Though, the number of participants in the funeral was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, hundreds of his supporters and fans gathered along the road to bid a tearful adieu to the departed soul.

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