A team of officials faced stiff resistance in Padarayanapura area of Bengaluru on Sunday when it had come to shift some residents to a quarantine facility, reported PTI. Fifty-nine people have been arrested and five first information reports have been filed, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday. “[We] will make sure others are quarantined,” he added.

Several positive cases have been reported from the locality and the area has been sealed to contain the spread of infection. Karnataka has so far reported 384 cases and 14 deaths, according to the Union health ministry.

Many primary contacts of three Covid-19 patients in the locality have already been sent in quarantine. But tension ensued around 7 pm on Sunday when the team of officials and medical staff tried to shift the secondary contacts.

“Officials have made a list of 58 people who are secondary contacts to be sent to quarantine,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) B Ramesh told PTI. “The first 15 people came with officials for quarantining and were sent in a bus. When the next group was called, they started opposing it and wanted the tests to be conducted on the spot.” The 58 people are believed to have come in contact with the three coronavirus patients.

Around 200 people gathered and shouted slogans like “We want justice”. They tried to remove barricades erected near entry and exit point to the locality and argued with the officials, said Ramesh. Some videos showed the local residents damaging tents installed for healthcare workers and policemen. Eventually, the team had to leave without taking 33 of the 58 people to the isolation units, reported NDTV.

“No healthcare worker was attacked...only some damage to the property has been reported,” said Ramesh. “It took a few hours for the officials concerned to bring the situation under control.” Later, a contingent of policemen carried out a flag march in the area.

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa held a meeting with Home Minister Bommai and police officers on Monday morning over the incident. “I met the chief minister and briefed him,” Bommai told ANI. “He told us to act strictly. I’ve told the same to my officials. We won’t tolerate such acts.”

After the incident, Bengaluru City Commissioner of Police Bhaskar Rao reiterated that the lockdown will continue. “Tomorrow will be as it was till today,” he tweeted. “We understand your situation and appreciate your cooperation.”

Politicians condemn the incident

Health Minister B Sriramulu condemned the incident and warned those who indulged in such activities. “The inhuman act of attacking police and health workers in Padarayanapura is highly deplorable,” he tweeted. “Our government will take appropriate step against those indulging in the attack on health officials and police officials who had gone there to protect them.”

Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy demanded stringent action against the culprits, while Bharatiya Janata Party MP Shobha Karandlaje called the attackers “morons” and “anti-nationals”.

Congress MLA BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan condemned the incident, but asked why the team went to the area late in the night and not in the morning. “Why did the police and the health workers go in the night when I had told the BBMP Commissioner that I will take them at 10 am?” Khan asked. He claimed that the attackers were uneducated labourers who did not know what they were doing.

Attack on healthcare workers

Several attacks have been reported in the past few weeks against healthcare workers and those in the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

Last week, health workers in Bihar were attacked by villagers in four different districts of the state during the door-to-door screening for the coronavirus. The attacks took place in Siwan, Begusarai, Nalanda and Nawada districts. Health officials were told to leave when they went to the affected areas. A day before that, similar incidents were reported from East Champaran district. At least nine officials were injured in an attack by a group of villagers.

Meanwhile, the Resident Doctors Association of All India Institute Of Medical Sciences had urged Home Minister Amit Shah to ensure protection to healthcare workers during the pandemic. They pointed out seven instances where doctors were assaulted while they were on duty.