(SAVARI and Round Table India are doing a series to put together the Bahujan perspective on the Coronavirus pandemic)
Anu Ramdas: Gurinder, thank you for taking the time for this. My first question to you is about Punjab. In the background of the pandemic, we know Punjab receives a lot of international travelers because of its very large diaspora. Can you give us an idea of how the state prepared to minimize or restrict the virus entry through international travel to Punjab?
Gurinder: Now, international flights are not there, they have stopped. The Indian government has stopped them, now there is no travel as such. But many people had come back to Punjab in recent months. As far as the diaspora is concerned, they managed well actually beforehand. But there was only one case, which I need to mention, about one Baldev Singh. He was from a rural background and he went to Italy and Germany. He was a preacher, a Sikh preacher, and he went with two companions and returned and then visited a festival called Holla Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib of Punjab, which has its own kind of a legacy of celebrating. He went there and, he died, unfortunately, of heart attack and, Al Jazeera and BBC they called him, the first case or zero patient of Coronavirus in Punjab, who infected 40,000 people. So that false propaganda was made. And, this is how Punjab, came into the limelight, on this issue. Whereas the fact-finding as conducted by a few friends of ours, found that, you know, he was such an innocent person, you know, unnecessarily he was dragged into the whole picture. As if he was a careless person and he intentionally hid this, that he's a Corona positive patient and lots of false propaganda was made around him. But there are arguments now.