Hundreds defy COVID norms, take out procession for ‘eradicating’ pandemic

Police arrest 23 people, including a village leader, for flouting government orders

Local women walk with water pots on their heads towards a local temple

Police arrested 23 people after hundreds of devotees gathered for a religious event organised to “eradicate coronavirus” in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, earlier this week.

The gathering took place on May 3 in Navpura Village in Sanand Taluka in Ahmedabad District. Among those arrested for flouting COVID-19 rules was the village head.

Videos of the event showed hundreds of women walking with water pots on their heads towards a local temple. The video grabs also showed men taking these pots to the top of the temple and emptying them.

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According to a police officer, the villagers believed that coronavirus would go away if water was poured on the temple.

“Women had gathered in large numbers carrying water pots. A police team went there the same day and arrested 23 villagers, including the village head, Gafabhai Thakor, for organising this event,” said KT Kamariya, deputy superintendent of police, Sanand Division.

Kamariya added the accused had been booked for violating a police notification regarding public gatherings under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act.

The Gujarat government on Tuesday imposed a night curfew and other restrictions in seven more cities, amid rising cases of COVID-19. It also extended the existing curbs in 29 cities till May 12 to break the chain of infection.

The restrictions in these 36 cities include the closure of non-essential shops, dine-in restaurants, swimming pools, cinemas and shopping complexes.

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