In violation of COVID-19 norms, a large number of Nationalist Congress Party workers, many of them without wearing a face mask, on Sunday attended a bypoll meeting in Pandharpur town in Solapur district of Maharashtra which was addressed by state unit president and minister Jayant Patil.
Police on Sunday night registered a case against NCP’s Pandharpur taluka president Vijay Deshmukh, who had organised the event, for violating COVID-19 rules under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, an officer said.
Addressing the meeting, Patil, who removed his mask while speaking, had sarcastically said, ‘it seems coronavirus has left the world as I can see your faces (without masks)’.
This meeting was held at a time when the local administration has imposed strict measures like the closure of shops and commercial establishments on weekends because of the rise in cases.
“After seeing your faces, I am pretty sure that there is no corona (virus) in the world now…so I am also removing my mask while speaking,” Patil told the gathering.
When queried about his remarks after the event, Patil told reporters that he spoke sarcastically.
“Whatever I said (at the meeting) was sarcasm. People were sitting in the meeting as if COVID-19 has ended. No one was wearing a face mask. During my speech, I also talked about the serious situation caused by a surge in infections in Maharashtra,” he said.
The meeting was held ahead of the Pandharpur- Mangalvedha Assembly bypoll scheduled to be held on April 17.
Patil also added that rallies were held in the state but no one wears a mask.
“People are behaving as if they will never contract COVID-19 or they might be thinking that all of them are vaccinated. But this is not right,” he added.