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Changlang: Chakma body blasts restriction on gatherings due to COVID; asks PM Modi to lift it


NEW DELHI: The Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention against “the abuse of the COVID-19 to restrict the right to peaceful assembly, especially of the Chakmas and Hajongs, by the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang district Devensh Yadav.”

It needs mention here that the Yadav, who is the DC of Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh, in his order dated January 7 2022 stated, “In view of surge in COVID-19 cases and emergent Omicron variant in neighbouring States, public gather/functions shall be restricted to 20 people following all covid Appropriate Behaviour”.

“The said order of the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang is arbitrary and absolute abuse of executive powers. It stands proven from the fact that all the schools and colleges which accommodate more than 20 students in one class room remain open as the weekly markets in the district. Further in the neighbouring State of Assam where Omicron cases were reported, the SOP dated 7th January 2022 states, in closed venue gathering is allowed upto 50% of seating capacity of hall, auditorium etc limited to a maximum of 200 persons,” the Chakma body said in a statement.

“Without issuing comprehensive SOP covering all aspects of COVID-19, the restriction on the assembly of more than 20 persons proves that the Deputy Commissioner has issued the order to not address COVID-19 but the right to freedom of association and assembly in the district”, said Suhas Chakma, Founder of the CDFI.

“The arbitrariness and absolute abuse of executive powers by Deputy Commissioner further stands proven from the fact that it imposes blanket ban on 20 persons even if a hall can accommodate 400 persons or an open field. The order is neither based on threat assessment based on COVID-19 cases in the district or State or any SOP issued by the State government of Arunachal Pradesh,” he added.

The CDFI stated that while adequate measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 must be taken, the” abuse of executive powers to violate the fundamental rights” guaranteed under the Constitution of India must not be permitted.

The CDFI urged the Prime Minister to direct the Arunachal Pradesh state government to instruct the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang district to withdraw its order dated 07.01.2022; revise the SOP on COVID 19 applicable to the state including designating various zones, and ensure that the “officials especially Deputy Commissioners do not abuse their executive powers based on whims and fancies to violate the fundamental rights for reasons best known to them.”

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