"In government’s urgency to show that it acts, it’s proving to be one that doesn’t think": Activist and ex-IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan
An FIR was registered against former civil servant Kannan Gopinathan under Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act for refusing to rejoin duty amid the COVID-19 crisis.
"You would usually not expect a government dealing with a crisis such as COVID to find vindictive ways to settle scores during a lockdown," says Kannan Gopinathan, the former Indian Administrative Service officer, who hit the headlines recently for being booked for refusing to rejoin duty amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The police in the Union Territory of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli had filed an FIR against Gopinathan under Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act for not resuming his duty as directed by the government.
"I had resigned from the service last August and for the last eight months I haven't even drawn salary. I had even replied to the government letter saying that I am willing to work as a volunteer, but the intention was to harass," says Kannan, who had quit his job in protest against the way the Centre had implemented the lockdown in Kashmir following the 'abrogation' of Article 370.
In an exlcusive conversation with Asiaville, he said, "I replied saying that if there's any requirement for my services I am ready to do it as a volunteer, but the intention behind that letter was not to avail my services. Even if I want to take their order in good faith, I can't because there are so many other IAS officers who are not at their stations or have resigned recently and are still drawing salary. But someone who has resigned eight months back, they want him to join back."
"No local government could have done it. To invoke the Disaster Management Act, first they need to send it to the Home Ministry. They'd need a prosecution sanction to file the FIR under Disaster Management Act. Imagine the effort they put just to file an FIR," Kannan points out.
There is another FIR against Gopinathan for a tweet he had made when the Raipur AIIMs had announced their decision to cut one-day salaries of their doctors to contribute to the PM-CARES fund. "The doctors had to give it in writing if they had objection to it. I don't understand how can you think of cutting the doctors' salaries. Now there's an FIR for that tweet under section 295-A, which says I hurt religious sentiments. I don't know whether Narenda Modi has been declared as an official religion yet," Kannan says sarcastically.
In the conversation which was live-streamed, Gopinathan also spoke about how he finds the implementation of the lockdown arbitary and without clear communication by the government as what are the parameters they are looking at to take next step in the battle against COVID-19.
He also points out how the migrant labourer crisis could have been minimised if the government focused more on the decision-making process and thought through the consequences of the lockdown on all sections of the society. According to him, the migration we'd see after the lifting of the lockdown could be more dangerous than, if the migrant workers were strategically and safely allowed to travel to their home districts and then quarantined.
"The government's problem is that it not only has to take a decision, but also be seen taking it. And it's urgency to show that it acts, it is proving to be one that doesn't think," says Gopinathan.
Watch the full conversation here: