It is highly likely that everyone in India has lost either a family member or a friend or an acquaintance or someone in the neighbourhood to the Chinese virus. This biological warfare engineered by China and USA was designed to wipe out a large portion of the world’s population, control economies and essentially stamp their authority on the remaining living population.
The second wave that came in like a tsunami and swept the nation in a matter of days was both unpleasant and unfortunate. The entire harrowing experience has led us to question the responsibilities of the state, the Centre and the citizens. Photos and videos of people gasping for breath in cars and autos, long queues outside hospitals, family members weeping on the pavements, doctors and nurses stretched to their limits, funeral pyres and mass burials went viral on the internet, social media platforms, news agencies, newspapers, media outlets and messaging apps.
So one can understand the shock and outrage that a common citizen would express on reading the written reply of the Minister of State for Health Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar that categorically states that the Centre only compiles the data sent in by the states and UTs and as per the data sent in by the latter, no deaths due to lack of oxygen has been reported by them!
Once the shock has passed and one reads and rereads the written reply, it is clear that health is a state subject and the onus is on the states starting from the Chief Minister to the secretaries to the District Collectors to use their mental acumen and manpower to ensure that all arrangements as directed by the Centre (PMO and HMO) including ambulances, medicines, oxygen supply and PPE kits are made according to density of population and demographics.
So the next question is why have no deaths been reported by the states and UTs during the second wave of the Chinese virus? The Centre’s active management, distribution and provisioning of medical oxygen to states is well-documented in the Supreme Court and media briefings.
Though the Centre requested reports of cases and deaths from all the states and UTs on a regular basis, the states have said in their replies in the courts that no deaths due to lack of oxygen have occurred, while they are now demanding an investigation into the same! So the question is who are they really wanting to investigate? Why are states concealing the data and putting the blame on the Centre?
During the second wave, the Delhi government especially made a hue and cry over oxygen shortage in the court and promptly took a U-turn when asked by the Centre for a detailed oxygen audit. The same can be said about many private hospitals who demanded the court’s intervention.
As per the reports received by the Centre, states and UTs have sent in the figures of the number of people who have died due to Chinese virus and reasons for their deaths. None of the states have cited oxygen shortage as the cause of death in any of the cases!
The same can be asked of BJP-ruled states as well where there have been reports of people dying of Chinese virus either because they were denied a bed or medical oxygen. As per independent data analysts in India, the total deaths due to lack of oxygen is between 500 to 620, out of which 59 have been reported confirmed in Delhi and Maharashtra, 30 in Madhya Pradesh, 46 in Uttar Pradesh, 52 in Andhra Pradesh, 22 in Haryana, 4 in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 6 in Punjab, 37 in Tamil Nadu and 16 in Gujarat.
Foreign media agencies that are largely unreliable and known for their Anti-Modi and Anti-India propaganda have pegged the number in thousands. As they are basing this information on photos and videos shot by like-minded people who are inveterate India-haters, this can be relegated to the dustbin.
Chhattisgarh was known to be facing acute oxygen shortage and yet CM Baghel sent oxygen to Lucknow on the instructions of Priyanka Vadra to score some political mileage (she is dreaming of becoming the next CM of UP). The mismanagement of the BMC and Maharashtra government was common knowledge and their reply to the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court was that no deaths due to oxygen shortage has been recorded.
The question now is why have the states made a U-turn on oxygen-related deaths during the second wave and put the onus on the Centre?
In conclusion, all one can say is that unless the state governments reveal the actual numbers, the Centre is in no position to compile the data and provide any information on it.
Written by Byomkesh Bakshi: Satyanweshi
*Disclaimer – Views are personal and based on data available on Government websites and not from newspapers, media outlets and TV channels.