The most serious setback has been the refusal of the Karnataka Government to obey the order passed by the Kerala High Court to open the border with Kerala. The decision to close the border has caused untold hardship to Covid patients in Kasaragod district heavily dependent on hospitals in Mangalore which falls in Karnataka In fact, as many as seven patients lost their lives following the refusal of Karnataka to allow them access to Mangalore hospitals.

Karnataka’s inhuman act is in blatant violation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Act, which says that transportation of patients between states should not be banned. The sealing of the border had also stopped the transportation of vegetables and other essentials to Kerala from Karnataka.

Karnataka’s defence is that as hospitals in Mangalore are already overcrowded, the State is not in a position to accommodate patients from neighbouring Kasaragod district. Also, Kasaragod, with more than 110 patients, has become a Covid hotspot. Karnataka’s Advocate Genera told Kerala HC that it has to protect the interest of the state’s people and that all parties in the State are against allowing patients from Kerala into Mangalore hospitals. Kerala HC however, rejected Karnataka’s contention and passed an interim order directing it to open the border

Karnataka not only refused the order but in an act that compounds its offence, has moved the Supreme Court against the Kerala HC’s order! An act of unspeakable cruelty which has evoked widespread criticism.

It was a sickening sight to see Kerala BJP leaders defending Karnataka’s utterly indefensible act in debates on prominent TV channels. This is in sharp contrast to the dignified manner in which Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan responded.

Kerala’s suffered a second setback when the High Court stayed the State Government’s order directing the Excise Department to provide limited quantity of liquor to alcohol addicts who come with a prescription from government doctors. The order was totally uncalled for apart from being unethical.

The Government defended the order saying that the closure of bars and Beverage Corporation outlets in the State had caused serious problems for alcohol addicts who were suffering from withdrawal symptoms! Moreover a few addicts had committed suicide, and the Government wanted to prevent more suicides in the days ahead.

The order was doomed to fail as the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) had made it clear that they would not issue prescriptions as directed by the Government. Ensuring supply of liquor is not the way to treat the addicts, the doctors contended. They should be admitted to hospitals and de-addiction centres to wean them away.

Expectedly, the High Court stayed the order to the relief of the people of the State, especially women. And the Government ended up with egg on its face. This was a self-goal which the Government could have – and should have avoided – at a time when it is locked in a tough battle against the killer virus. The Opposition parties which have cooperated with the Government in its anti-corona battle were, not surprisingly, unsparing in their criticism of the Government’s foolish order.

The least the State Government can do is to avoid making such silly mistakes. Instead, it must devote undivided attention to and keep the focus on the battle against corona – a battle it cannot afford to lose. (IPA Service)