The Assam government has decided to arrest those who intentionally violate rules at quarantine centres and book them under non-bailable charges, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Thursday, reported Northeast Now. He added that the violators may even face “attempt to murder” charges.

“Those who are creating any sort of obstructions to the health workers while doing their duties, any sort of misconduct, will lead to their arrest, and [the accused] will be consecutively booked under non-bailable charges such as an attempt to murder,” said Sarma. “Those violating the quarantine rules will become a threat to lives of many in the society including their family members. We cannot let this happen and have to be ruthless against intentional violators.”

Sarma’s comments come amid reports of ruckus at two quarantine centres in Bongaigaon and Chirang districts, reported NDTV. In Bongaigaon’s quarantine facility, inmates had allegedly abused the health workers over the quality of food. In Chirang, some inmates had fled from the quarantine centre. After they were brought back, they too complained about the food quality.

In Golaghat, some people were found spitting inside the premises. There have also been reports of people fleeing from quarantine centres.

So far, Assam has only charged the accused under sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code. Both the charges are bailable with a jail term of six months only.

As of Friday morning, Assam has 1,988 cases including four deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Health Minister Sarma said that even though the state has been witnessing a sharp rise in the number of infections, almost 90% of the patients are in quarantine facilities. “Under such circumstances, the chances of spreading the virus at the community or society level are still very remote,” he said, according to Sentinel Assam.

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