Prime News, Nation, (Mangaluru/Kasaragod), April 3:-A social media campaign, including by ruling BJP leaders, has started in Karnataka against any move to open the NH 66 for critically ill patients coming from Kasaragod in Kerala to Mangaluru, as directed by the high court of the neighbouring state.
The Kerala High Court’s order on a PIL late Wednesday has come as a relief to Kasaragod people dependent on Mangaluru for treatment of serious and critical illness as the coastal Karnataka city, about 50 kms away, has several super speciality hospitals.
However, police in Kasaragod, identified as a hotspot for the deadly virus, claimed the situation remained ‘same’ on Thursday and Karnataka police continued to deny permission for vehicles to cross over except trucks carrying essential goods.
Since the 21-day national lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus came into force, Karnataka has sealed its border at Talapady, 16 kms from Mangaluru in Dakshina Kannada District, allowing only movement of essential commodities to Kerala through Kasaragod district.
At least seven seriously ill people from Kasaragod had died in recent days unable to reach Mangaluru for critical care with Karnataka police allegedly turning away ambulances.
Passing interim orders on a batch of PILs over the issue, a division bench of Kerala High Court had on Wednesday directed the centre to remove the blockades and allow free movement of vehicles carrying ill patients needing urgent medical treatment in Mangaluru.
However, this has sparked a campaign in Karnataka on social media with netizens opposing any step to open the border between DK and Kasaragod and also questioning the Kerala government over its development model vis-a-vis healthcare facilities in the border district.
Adding political colour to the issue, several BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders too took to twitter under the hashtag #SaveKarnatakafromPinarayi#, registering their opposition.
In a series of tweets, BJP state president and Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said the border has been closed as it was the responsibility of the Karnataka government to take care of its citizens at the time of COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one has stopped the people of Kerala coming to Mangaluru for medical treatment in different circumstances.
Karnataka has taken this step to protect its citizens in the current situation,” he said.
Kateel said COVID-19 cases in the entire Karnataka were lesser than that of Kasaragod district.
Opening of the border with Kasaragod will lead to many patients rushing to Mangaluru for treatment.
“It is not proper to create fear among the people of Karnataka in such a situation,” he said and asked Kerala to provide its people with facilities at Kasaragod.
“Shabhash. Kerala CM happily announces 20k crore for Corona fight and silently goes to HC to request to open Karnataka borders as his people can get treatment in Mangaluru! Is this Kerala development model?,” Yuva Brigade leader Chakravarti Sulibele, who launched the campaign, asked.
Mangaluru North MLA Bharat Y Shetty said half of coronavirus patients at Wenlock hospital in Mangaluru were from Kasaragod while South MLA Vedavyas Kamath also joined the debate and questioned the development model of Kerala.
Netizens also shared the DK district health officer Ramachandra Bayari’s letter Wednesday to private hospitals in the district not to admit patients from Kasaragod.
In Kasaragod, District Superintendent of Police P S Sabu said the situation was same.
“What I understand is that Karnataka is (going to) move Supreme court against the Kerala High Court order,” he said.
Besides ambulances carrying critically ill being allegedly denied entry, a sick man was forcibly discharged from a Mangaluru hospital and had to walk nearly 50 km recently.
Vorkady panchayat president Abdul Majeed said Derlakutta, a small border town in Karanataka, about 11 kilometres from Vorkady, has three major hospitals where people have been treated for illness of serious nature.
With the borders closed, people now will have to depend on the low-profile private hospitals at Uppala and Kumbala in Kasaragod, he said.
People of Kasaragod depend on these hospitals in and around Mangaluru for all critical care like dialysis, chemotherapy, radiation and cardiac issues, he said.
Manjeswaram panchayat president Abdul Azeez said there were only two hospitals – the district hospital in Kanhangad and taluk hospital in Kasaragod where such facilities were available, in a limited manner.
The work on the proposed medical college at Ukkinaduka in nearby Badiyadukka panchayat was progressing but might take months to function in full-scale, he added.
A PIL filed by Kasaragod MP Rajmohan Unnithan against the closure of border roads is likely to come up before the Supreme Court on Friday.
-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)