The Tamil Nadu government has announced more relaxations as part of Unlock 4.0 in the state. Public transport has been restarted, with inter-district services beginning from September 7 along with special train services of the Southern Railways.
Meanwhile, leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continue to fan fake news, with the national secretary H.Raja leading the pack. A murder, resulting from enmity between two gangs in Ramanathapuram district was projected as a communal issue. The Superintendent of Police (SP), Varun Kumar, who denied any religious enmity behind the the murder, has been wait-listed in the recent reshuffle of officers.
Another student died by suicide in the state having been unable to download the hall ticket for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). NewsClick brings you a roundup of the happenings in the state this week.
COVID-19: Large-Scale Unlock Begins
The state government announced further relaxations for the fourth phase of the unlock exercise from September 1. Inter-district transport will commence from September 7 and so do train services, with 13 special trains resuming operations within the state. With the state expecting normalcy to be restored from Monday, the Chief Secretary has instructed district collectors to maintain vigil in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Tamil Nadu Public Health Act 1939, (Second Amendment) Ordinance was promulgated by the governor to punish violators of the COVID-19 norms. The ordinance specifies a fine of Rs 5,000 for violations of standard operating procedure and of Rs 200 for not wearing masks in public places.
The unlock relaxations come at a time when the state continues to record around 6,000 fresh cases everyday, without any signs of the infection-spread letting up. The total number of infections breached 4.5 lakh on September 4, with the number of casualties in the state at 7,687 the same day. The number of those discharged, too, increased to 3,92,507, leaving the number of active cases at 51,633. Though the number of patients discharged remain high, the increase in fresh cases is a cause for concern for the administration in the state.
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) is witnessing reverse migration after travel restrictions were relaxed, with the numbers set to increase further. The number of cases dropped below 1,000 only for a couple of days in the last three weeks. The city has recorded 2,826 deaths with 12,003 active cases till September 4. Major roads in the city have seen severe traffic congestion over the past few days.
BJP Leaders Fan Fake News Machinery
A murder on August 31 in Ramanathapuram district was claimed to be a religious murder by members of the Muslim community. The claim was made by H, Raja, the national secretary of the BJP. He tweeted that Muslim fanatics had murdered one Arun Prakash.
Later, the SP confirmed that the murder was a result of groups clashing without religious intentions. The arrested gangsters include members from both Hindu and Muslim faiths. The concerned SP has been kept waiting in the recent shuffe of police officers, raising suspicions over the influence of the BJP leadership on the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government.
In another incident, an old image of an injured policeman was spread as ‘policeman attacked by Muslims’. Right-wing Twitter users shared the image widely, only to find that the incident happened in 2017. The policeman was attacked by youth consuming alcohol near Tiruvallikeni, and a youth by the name of Hari Ram had been arrested. Read More
Another NEET Aspirant Dies by Suicide
In another tragic incident, a NEET aspirant took her own life after being unable to download her hall ticket. The 17-year-old, an aspirant from Pudukottai district, took the step after she misplaced the details required to download the admit card.
The student reportedly consumed pesticide on August 29 after a visit to the school with her father for exploring options available to her did not go well; the girl passed away on September 1. Another student from Coimbatore also died by suicide due to fear of the NEET exam. Repeated demands by the Opposition parties to scrap the NEET for Tamil Nadu students have yielded no result.
The Supreme Court has also rejected the appeal of six states against the conduct of the NEET exams amid the pandemic. With one week left for the exam, students now face the prospect of appearing for the exam with the threat of a viral infection increasing day by day.
Transport Workers Stage Protest
On September 3, the directors and members of the Teynampet Government Transport Employees Co-operative Society staged a protest in front of the Pallavan House, the headquarters of the corporation. They demanded the release of Rs 96 crore worth of dues from the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) to the Co-operative society. The protest was led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Labour Progressive Federation (LPF).
About 9,000 employees of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation from Vizhupuram, Kanchipuram, Vellore, and Tiruvannamalaiare benefit from the Co-operative Society. The MTC is expected to transfer the deducted amount from the workers to the society, but has refrained from doing so for the last year.
The society usually takes loans from the central co-operative bank and is now unable to disburse loans to its members and repay their loans, as the funds have dried up due to the inaction of the MTC. The workers and the society are both affected by the approach of the MTC. After the protest, the MTC management has agreed to disburse Rs 12 crores by the end of the week.
Fireworks Factory Explosion Kills Seven
Seven women workers were killed in an accident in a fireworks factory in Kattumannarkoil in Cuddalore district. Two more women present during the blast have suffered severe injuries. The licence of the factory reportedly expired in March. The district collector said, “The unit had a light explosive licence, and it was functioning for 30 years. However, the licence had expired and it was not renewed”, The Hindu quoted him saying.
The workers were manufacturing crackers for the upcoming Diwali season. The factory had reportedly started work from Friday. The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs to the families of the deceased.
Domestic Workers Protest
Domestic workers affiliated to the Pen Thozhilalar Sangam held a protest demanding relief for losses incurred during the lockdown period. Most of the women workers have been denied jobs since the pandemic broke, and are yet to get back to work. Many of them work as domestic help and with the pandemic showing no signs of settling down, employers have denied them work. In a major blow to these workers, the residents’ welfare associations have also instructed the residents to refrain from recalling the workers.
Most of the women workers and their families have been moved out of the city in the name of slum clearance. Even though they have been allotted homes by the slum clearance board, they are travelling several kilometres to make a living. The minimal relief measures of the state government have hardly met the needs of the poor workers. The workers have demanded Rs 10,000 cash relief for the period of their unemployment.