President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday expressed concern over the gathering of migrant workers in Anand Vihar and the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin, saying these two incidents caused a setback to the efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan.
In a video-conference with the Governors, Lieutenant Governors and Administrators of states/union territories, the president emphasized the need to ensure that no one remains hungry during the nationwide lockdown.
"In the conference there was unanimity that there is no scope for laxity or complacency in fighting the invisible enemy. In this context, the president noted with concern the incidents of attacks on doctors, health workers and police personnel in some parts of the country," it said.
Affirming that people of the country have set an example by showing exemplary courage, discipline and solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, Kovind has expressed concern over two incidents, the gathering of migrant workers in Anand Vihar and the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin, both in Delhi, that caused a setback to the efforts, the statement said.
Moreover, while ensuring that food and other essential items are made available to the needy, care has to be taken that no compromise is made on the question of social distancing, he added.
Taking note of the problems faced by the homeless, the unemployed and the weaker sections of society during this crisis, the president said, "We will have to be extra sensitive towards their needs."
He invited other participants in the conference to deliberate upon the ways and means to ensure nobody remains hungry.
Acknowledging that this was a big challenge, Kovind said he was confident the Governors will contribute to the efforts made at the central and state levels and involve all sections of society.
President Kovind, along with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, during the conference discussed ways to contribute to the measures taken by the government of India and the state governments in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
"Today's conference was a sequel to the video conference held on March 27 with the Governors/LGs of select states/UTs on the issue," the statement said.
The Governors and LGs of 15 states/UTs had apprised the president and the vice-president about the situation in their states/UTs in the conference held on March 27.
"Today, the Governors/LGs/Administrators of 21 remaining states/UTs briefed the president and the vice-president on COVID-19 related efforts," it said.
He wholeheartedly endorsed the Prime Minister's appeal on Friday to all citizens to switch off lights in homes at 9 PM on Sunday and instead switch on their mobile flashlights, torches or lamps in an expression of people's solidarity to fight against coronavirus.
Kovind, however, cautioned people not to let their guard down and steadfastly adhere to the practice of social distancing.
In his opening remarks, the president also noted that they had constructive discussions in the previous video conference held on March 27, and several useful suggestions had been made.
Some of the praiseworthy initiatives of various states, which were noted in the previous conference, included enrolling retired doctors and medical students, using the expertise of psychologists, inviting the youth to volunteer, monitoring the situation with daily review meetings, setting up hunger help-lines, encouraging home delivery, using stadiums for relief works and quarantine facilities, and involving universities in spreading awareness, the statement said.
The president referred to the previous conference in which the role of the Red Cross and other voluntary agencies in complementing the efforts of the government was discussed.
He invited suggestions to involve and encourage maximum participation of the voluntary agencies as well as the private sector in meeting the humanitarian challenge.
"In battling the pandemic, our efforts so far have been in the right direction, notwithstanding some incidents, and we are moving ahead with firm determination," he said in his closing remarks.
The president expressed appreciation of the fellow citizens for their patience and cooperation.
He thanked the doctors and all officers and employees who have been serving society, the nation and humanity despite grave risk to their lives.
Kovind also expressed his full confidence that the people of the country will continue the campaign against the pandemic with full alertness and firm determination.
The vice president who conducted the conference laid emphasis on roping in volunteers of the Indian Red Cross Society, social organisations and private sector to mitigate the plight of the poor.
He urged the Governors/Lt Governors and Administrators to persuade leaders from different walks to life to come forward and support the most vulnerable sections of society, particularly farmers, as the lockdown coincides with the harvesting season in many states.
Naidu pointed out that though the central government and the state governments were taking adequate measures to alleviate people's suffering, it would serve eternal human values for social elites to come forward and support the poor and most vulnerable sections in this crisis.