AGENCIES, New Delhi: Attacks on healthcare workers will now carry a jail term of up to seven years and a hefty fine, the government said on Wednesday as instances of such attacks spiralled across the country. In an executive order passed urgently on Wednesday afternoon, hours after Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared the safety of medical personnel as “non-negotiable”, the government also made it a non-bailable offence.
The government has also made the Epidemic Act a concurrent Act so it can make decisions and take action during an epidemic to control road, rail, marine and air traffic.
“While people across the nation salute the health workers and those in the field helping battle COVID-19, there are few who are attacking them, thinking they are spreading the virus,” Union minister Prakash Javadekar said after a Cabinet meeting. “We have zero tolerance and will not allow this in a civilised society,” he added.
Modi government brings safety net for Corona Warriors. Attacks against the life saviours will not be tolerated.
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) April 22, 2020
“Any attack on doctors or health workers will be liable to a penalty of anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh in non-serious cases and Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for serious offences, where there are reports of serious injury,” the minister said, ading, “In addition to this, there will also be a jail term — a minimum of 6 months and up to 5 years for non-serious offences and up to 7 years for serious cases. This will be a non-bailable offence.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said tougher punishment for attacks on health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight will “ensure the safety of our professionals” and demonstrated the government’s commitment to protect “each and every healthcare worker” in the country.
“The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 manifests our commitment to protect each and every healthcare worker who is bravely battling COVID-19 on the frontline. It will ensure safety of our professionals. There can be no compromise on their safety!” – Modi tweeted.
The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 manifests our commitment to protect each and every healthcare worker who is bravely battling COVID-19 on the frontline.
It will ensure safety of our professionals. There can be no compromise on their safety!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 22, 2020
Medical personnel have been playing a frontline role in the battle against coronavirus, the government has underscored repeatedly. But it has not stemmed the tide of attacks against doctors, nurses or paramedical workers, who were planning a symbolic protest on April 23.
The protest was called off after Amit Shah reached out to the Indian Medical Association, the nodal body of doctors in the country, and assured that the government will do everything possible to protect them.