Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH), a South African residential care facility for the aged, supported by Amitabh Bachchan, is reportedly in the centre of a controversy, for not following regulations during the current nationwide lockdown.
Aryan Benevolent Home chief executive Naren Pattundeen and building contractor Roshan Lutchman were arrested by police, for not having the required permits to build a COVID-19 isolation ward at the Chatsworth home for the elderly. ABH was constructing a 24-bed ward facility when the police arrived at the site. The construction was taking place as a part of their disaster management plan to prepare for a possible outbreak in the home, which caters scores of senior citizens.
Contractor Lutchman told an online portal that he and Pattundeen were in possession of valid permits to operate during the lockdown, which the police refused to accept as valid. The police said that they will be locking everyone up at the site, which includes 38 workers, packed in batches of 12 police vans. They were escorted to the police station in Chatsworth.
Lutchman revealed that the police said, "social distancing was not possible at the police station and everyone was packed into a courtyard until police allowed his workers to leave with a warning." According to the report, Lutchman and Pattundeen were held in a cell and were released after the attorney secured their bail.
"We have engaged our attorneys to challenge our unlawful arrest. It was disrespectful and demoralising - the way they handled us was as if we were selling drugs or alcohol, Their conduct was really shocking. The ABH staff watched a senior member being arrested like a crook, while my staff watched me being arrested" he added. They also plan to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
Actor Amitabh Bachchan has been very supportive of the ABH for years after he first visited in 2002, for the South African leg of the megastar Bollywood show Now or Never. Two years ago, he also endorsed a fundraising campaign for the ABH.