KP health minister booked for violating Covid SOPs at iftar party in Peshawar restaurant

Published April 27, 2021
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra is seen at an iftar party on Monday. — Photo provided by author
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra is seen at an iftar party on Monday. — Photo provided by author

A first information report (FIR) was registered against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra and the owner and manager of a restaurant in Peshawar for violating coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) by hosting an iftar party on Monday.

Peshawar Assistant Commissioner Ehteshamul Haq told Dawn.com that the administration took timely action after pictures of the iftar were shared on social media.

The photos show that Jhagra and others are not observing social distancing and the health minister has not donned a face mask either. Dining at restaurants was banned by authorities last week to curb the spread of the coronavirus in major cities of KP, including Peshawar.

Haq said Jhagra had iftar and dinner with a dozen people in the restaurant, adding that they had brought their own food.

"There will not be any kind of compromise on coronavirus SOPs. If SOPs are violated, the law will come into action," he stressed.

He added that the restaurant had been sealed.

The FIR was registered under Sections 6 to 17 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Epidemic Control and Emergency Relief Act, 2020. These sections are related to attendance in public places, prohibition or restriction of events and gatherings, movement and retention of potentially infectious person to a suitable place, duty to undergo screening and assessment, and duty to inform.

On Saturday, the KP government had requested the Centre to authorise deployment of armed forces and civil armed forces in the province to ensure effective implementation of National Command and Operation Centre's (NCOC) guidelines related to coronavirus.

The interior ministry issued a notification the same day after which Pakistan Army troops were deployed to KP as well as other provinces and federal territories to help enforce Covid SOPs. Enhanced troop deployment was done in five KP cities — Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi — where the positivity rate was "very high".

According to a report of World Health Organisation, four districts of KP, including Peshawar, are on top of the list of endemic areas in the country.

The province reported 584 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths during the last 24 hours. The provincial caseload is 114,661 and the death toll is 3,156.

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