Coronavirus scare: In Kolkata, ‘Gaumutra’ lands cop in hospital; local BJP organiser behind bars

Source: Times of India

KOLKATA: A 34-year-old home guard, who had his first sip of cow urine in a north Kolkata neighbourhood on Monday, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday after he complained of vomiting and nausea. But Pintu Pramanik did not let that come in the way of his duty. He filed a complaint from his hospital bed against the BJP functionary who “induced” him to drink the gaumutra — as “prasad and preventive medicine” against Covid-19 — following which cops arrested Narayan Chatterjee on Tuesday.
The hospitalisation and the arrest capped a bizarre chain of events that played itself out over 22 hours in a neighbourhood a few kilometres northwest of College Street, the cradle of Bengal Renaissance that stamped out social evils like widow-burning from nineteenth-century Calcutta and Bengal.

TOI on Monday reported how Chatterjee, a local BJP member known for his ability to get in TV camera frames, organised a “gaumata” worship programme at an illegal cow shelter near the Nimtala crematorium on the eastern bank of the Hooghly. He then made several bystanders drink cow urine as “protection against the novel coronavirus (nCoV)”; one of them happened to be Pramanik.
TOI has a video where Chatterjee is heard explaining to Pramanik that there was no medicine for nCoV but cow urine could “cure the infection 100%”. Pramanik’s complaint left out most of these details, only mentioning that “unknown persons” had made him drink the cow urine after telling him that it was “charanamrita” (holy water) and that he took ill a few hours after drinking it.

“The incident happened around 2.20 p.m. on Monday when Pramanik was performing traffic duty at the BK Pal Avenue-Nimtala Ghat Street crossing,” a senior Kolkata Police official said. Pramanik’s colleagues said he felt sick and nauseous and vomited twice on Monday evening and so had to be taken to hospital on Tuesday morning; he was “released after treatment” on Tuesday evening.
Cops slapped BJP leader Chatterjee with Sections 269 (“negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life”), 278 (“making the atmosphere noxious to health”) and 114 (“abetment to an offence”) of the Indian Penal Code. Chatterjee can get a prison term of six months if convicted.

TOI visited the khatal (cow shelter) on Baishnab Seth Street on Tuesday and met multiple persons — from milkmen and cabbies to local residents — who drank the urine but said they were doing “fine”. “I was sitting at my shop when Chatterjee and his supporters came and asked me to me drink the gomutra. I had not tasted it before but still agreed because a political leader asked me,” paan shop owner Pradeep Chaurasia said.
A taxi driver, who refused to be named, said he was waiting at the crossing when the BJP leader came up to him with the bottle of gomutra. “There were so many persons with him… I could not refuse. But it tasted strange,” he said.

Ganesh Rai, owner of two of the five cows at the shelter, said he had been working at the same cattle shed for 25 years but had never tasted cow urine before Monday. “It tasted like pepper mixed in water,” he said, making a face.
Suraj Yadav, another elderly milkman who was photographed being fed cow urine from a bottle, said he drank out of fear. “He is a known face here and a powerful man. He came with a lot of people on Monday and did a puja and then made us drink the gomutra he had brought in a bottle,” Yadav said.
TOI tried to trace Chatterjee but calls went unanswered on his cellphone. A neighbour said cops had taken him away for questioning.
“Chatterjee is one of our karyakartas who worked for us in KMC Ward 20 in the 2015 civic polls. But whatever he did on Monday was not an official party programme,” BJP state general secretary Sayantan Ghosh said.

(This story has not been edited by Kashmir Today staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)