A government order has inadvertently exposed the lacunae in the effective implementation of lockdown and the threat that inter-district movement is posing during the spread of COVID19. A government school principal travelled over 600 kilometers from Jaipur to Barmer along with three others. He landed on the radar of the medical team as a person coming from outside the district; was tested and has been diagnosed coronavirus positive.
The entire village of Kitnoria has been sealed and medical teams are screening all people in the village. People who came in contact with Abdul Rahman are being traced.
The village has been sanitized.
Later in the day, an FIR was lodged against government school principal Abdul Rahman for non cooperation and hampering work of government workers. The administration has also recommended the education department suspend Abdul Rahman and the other three teachers.
Speaking to FPJ, Vishram Meena District Collector Barmer said, “Abdul Rahman abused the Patwari and ANM when they tried to screen him. He tried to stop them from performing their duties as employees of the state. He came from Ramganj area of Jaipur along with 3 others, knowingly crossed check posts, met people. They all acted as carriers, have infected Barmer that was till now unaffected and have created an environment of fear in the people here.”
Rahman, a resident of Ramganj in Jaipur was posted as principal at the government school in Kitnoria and had left his place of duty after lockdown was announced, without informing the department. This is despite orders that all government employees are not to leave the place of posting. Rahman’s home is in Ramganj - the hotspot of COVID-19 spread in Jaipur where curfew along with strict lockdown has been enforced to contain the spread of infection.
He was forced to return when the Rajasthan government issued an order asking all school principals to hand over grain for mid-day meals, lying in their schools, to the local administration for distribution to the needy. As this could be authorized by the school principal, Abdul Rahman had to rush back to his place of posting some 600 km away.
Evading all check posts Rahman managed to cross 5 districts and travel all the way from the capital city Jaipur to Barmer on the Indo-Pak border.
He reached Barmer on April 5 and on April 6 the local ANM added his name to the report of people coming from outside the district. On April 7 he was taken to Barmer and his samples sent to Jodhpur. He tested positive late in the night on April 8.
“I have recommended to education director for their suspension. They left their place of duty and later came back without permission. They are educated persons in responsible positions who have behaved in this manner. The biggest issue is that they come from highly infected areas. We have appealed to the teachers to stay back wherever they are. The public is upset with teachers who are trying to come back, especially if they coming from Corona hotspots like Jaipur, Bhilwara and Jhunjhunu,” added Meena.
Meena adds, “The three teachers who travelled with Abdul Rahman from Jaipur have been traced and put under quarantine. Curfew has been imposed in Kitnoria village and heavy police force has been deployed. No person is permitted to leave their home. The entire village is being sanitized. Every person in the village is being screened. All 29 came in contact with Abdul Rahman in direct or indirect manner have been placed under quarantined. All borders of the district have been locked No person will be allowed entry into the district.”
“The teachers who have left are returning to their place of posting. I have told all administration that the teachers who are returning to their place of posting should not be allowed to interact with people and placed under quarantine,” said Meena.
While the Abdul Rahman case has come on the medical department's radar as he was traced, tested and found positive; it is a grim reminder that most school teachers posted in rural areas have arbitrarily moved to their home towns during lockdown.