COVID testing facility at Lakhanpur vandalised; health officials hold protest
Jammu: Irate over “inordinate delay in getting RT-PCR reports”, an unruly crowd vandalised COVID testing counters and also manhandled staff deputed at Lakhanpur in Kathua district on the intervening night of December 24 and 25.
One of the lab technicians working there stated that the existing staff of 15 people was not able to cope up with the rush of passengers following the Kathua administration’s order for mandatory RT-PCR testing for all the arrivals, including those fully vaccinated, at Lakhanpur –the gateway to J&K.
“Last night, when we’re performing our duties vis-a-vis testing, people standing in long queues entered into a verbal duel with us asking us to give them testing reports immediately. Suddenly they turned violent alleging inordinate delay in their reports and forced entry into the counters after smashing window panes with stones and sticks. They attacked some of the health workers on duty with stones and sticks as well. They damaged furniture, testing kits and destroyed the sampling record of 4000-5000 people. To save our lives, we ran for safety. In the melee, many drove past the counters without mandatory checking,” he stated.
Two officials, who were allegedly manhandled by the violent crowd, stated that the staff approached CISF personnel deputed there for help.
“However, CISF personnel told us that they could not intervene because they were there to assist police. In the name of police, there was a single cop on duty when the situation turned volatile. He was unable to protect us. If the administration had to enforce guidelines, it should have increased the number of counters besides enhancing the staff strength. In the morning, only six counters were working. Each test takes at least 20 minutes and there are thousands standing in the queues waiting for hours. Those, who were fully vaccinated, wanted to proceed further, seeking exemption from the testing. Our question to the authorities is what protection they are offering us against such violent acts of people,” they lamented.
After the incident, senior police personnel reached the spot and took assessment of the situation.
A senior police official said that CCTV footage was being checked and accordingly the action would be taken. Earlier DC Kathua Rahul Yadav had stated that the RT-PCR testing was made mandatory for all, irrespective of their vaccination status, in the wake of the Omicron threat.
SSP Kathua R C Kotwal told Greater Kashmir that they were taking cognizance into the matter.