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Medical professionals forced to take to crowdfunding to source PPEs

Crowdfunding campaigns on across the country to source PPEs, sanitizers and masks for doctors and nurses

08 Apr 2020

CrowdfundingImage Courtesy:salaamgateway.com

Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is well known that healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic are facing an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and coveralls. Even while the Prime Minister urged the people to clap for healthcare workers, all they had to say was that while they appreciated the gratitude, what they actually needed was medical equipment to protect themselves from the infection.

However, it appears that their pleas are falling on deaf ears, an they are left to their own resources and the support of the citizens to help them stay healthy during this time.

Take the case of Telangana, where according to Deccan Chronicle, the state government is yet to supply and adequate number of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), sanitizers and masks to junior doctors who are treating Covid-19 patients in government hospitals. This despite Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s personal commitment to the effect! 

On Tuesday, the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (T-Juda), was forced to opt for crowd funding and rely on donations from senior doctors. As these junior doctors have to face patients every day, they have requested senior doctors and alumni to help them out with money to procure the equipment.

A member of the T-Juda said, “About five lakh PPE and masks were promised to us but they are nowhere to be seen. Some junior doctors in Gandhi Hospital might have got some PPE and masks, but rest of us are struggling at the forefront of this battle.”

Explaining that their target is to get 5,000 N-95 masks and at least 1,000 PPE to begin with as they can be worn only for six to eight hours and discarded properly later, Dr. K.U.N. Vishnu, the President of T-Juda said, “We are not getting safety gear on time. With number of cases rising, frontline workers have to be protected. If they fall ill or are quarantined, there will be shortage of manpower, which will lead to trouble in Covid management. We are appealing to people to support us and provide us with funds to procure safety equipment.”

A senior resident doctor from Osmania General Hospital is baffled as he doesn’t know where the gap lies. Whether the requirements aren’t communicated or the equipment isn’t being released. He says, “We are seeing patients who are not revealing their travel history or contact footprint maps. Some of them are not even aware that they have come in contact with those who travelled to Covid-19 affected countries. In such a scenario, we doctors and other medical staff are exposed. We badly need protection. The government made an announcement but nothing has reached us. We do not know where the gap lies? Is it superintendents of hospitals have not given right requirement or is medical department not releasing them?”

The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Chandigarh too sourced 48 PPEs through crowd funding. Two former students of the 2009 MBBS batch, who are now doctors in the US and Singapore together raised Rs. 3 lakh online in three days for the safety gear. The doctors managed to raise the money through a GoFundMe campaign and Ketto.org.

Dr. Rohan Dhaliwal, ocular immunology fellow in Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston who started the campaign with Dr. Sahil Thakur, ocular epidemiology fellow in Singapore Eye Research Institute told The Times of India, “The government acquisition procedures and policies are slow and people unwilling to think or do anything outside the box. It all started when we saw an online post from a GMCH resident doctor about the shortage of PPEs. Dr. Sahil and I got together to help our GMCH family in testing times.”

“We had 95 contributors. The PPE is worth Rs. 2.6 lakh and includes 100 PPE routine gear, 250 N-95 masks and 100 full body suits. We are looking for a vendor of N-95 and PPE to spend the remaining Rs. 40,000,” he added.

Confirming the endeavor, medical superintendent Dr. Ravi Gupta said, “The contribution was for 100 PPEs, which cannot be received in one lot, so we have got 48 at the moment. The next lot will come soon. This is a big boost in the fight against Covid-19.”

In Mysuru, looking at the dire need of PPEs for healthcare workers involved in the direct care of patients, the Round Table India (Mysuru Chapter), 41ers club and the Ladies Circle India came forward to raise funds through crowd funding for the procurement of these essential equipment, reported Star of Mysore.

In Bengaluru, Fracktal Works, a Bengaluru based startup, centered on 3D printer manufacturing and product development, launched a crowd funding campaign on Sunday, reported TOI. Within 10 hours, they reached the target of Rs. 1.5 lakh, to produce 1,000 face shields. Overwhelmed with the support, they are now looking to raise Rs. 5 lakh for 3,000 face shields. Rohit Asil, a member of the core team of the company said, “These face shields will be donated to specific hospitals that are away from cities, where there are no proper logistics, are difficult to reach and there are less doctors. We have also received calls from Gwalior, where a small nursing home has been converted into a Covid-19 relief center. The face shields will be shipped by Tuesday.”

It is heartening to see the medical fraternity coming together to contribute for their fellow mates when they need it the most. With cases of coronavirus rising in India and more than 50 healthcare workers already falling prey to the infection, there is an obvious in delay in the government’s strategy reaching to the healthcare personnel on ground. Whether it is a manufacturing or distribution delay, it will cause irreparable damage if the required equipment doesn’t come in soon, thereby putting the lives of the leaders of the Covid-19 war on the line.

Related:

Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?
Indian medics: Why should we risk our lives?
Covid-19 stigma: Medical professionals ostracized and evicted from rented homes
Doctors need more protective gear now, before COVID-19 cases explode
Covid-19: Ventilator, PPE shortages put India’s frontline healthcare staff at risk

Medical professionals forced to take to crowdfunding to source PPEs

Crowdfunding campaigns on across the country to source PPEs, sanitizers and masks for doctors and nurses

CrowdfundingImage Courtesy:salaamgateway.com

Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is well known that healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic are facing an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and coveralls. Even while the Prime Minister urged the people to clap for healthcare workers, all they had to say was that while they appreciated the gratitude, what they actually needed was medical equipment to protect themselves from the infection.

However, it appears that their pleas are falling on deaf ears, an they are left to their own resources and the support of the citizens to help them stay healthy during this time.

Take the case of Telangana, where according to Deccan Chronicle, the state government is yet to supply and adequate number of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), sanitizers and masks to junior doctors who are treating Covid-19 patients in government hospitals. This despite Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s personal commitment to the effect! 

On Tuesday, the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (T-Juda), was forced to opt for crowd funding and rely on donations from senior doctors. As these junior doctors have to face patients every day, they have requested senior doctors and alumni to help them out with money to procure the equipment.

A member of the T-Juda said, “About five lakh PPE and masks were promised to us but they are nowhere to be seen. Some junior doctors in Gandhi Hospital might have got some PPE and masks, but rest of us are struggling at the forefront of this battle.”

Explaining that their target is to get 5,000 N-95 masks and at least 1,000 PPE to begin with as they can be worn only for six to eight hours and discarded properly later, Dr. K.U.N. Vishnu, the President of T-Juda said, “We are not getting safety gear on time. With number of cases rising, frontline workers have to be protected. If they fall ill or are quarantined, there will be shortage of manpower, which will lead to trouble in Covid management. We are appealing to people to support us and provide us with funds to procure safety equipment.”

A senior resident doctor from Osmania General Hospital is baffled as he doesn’t know where the gap lies. Whether the requirements aren’t communicated or the equipment isn’t being released. He says, “We are seeing patients who are not revealing their travel history or contact footprint maps. Some of them are not even aware that they have come in contact with those who travelled to Covid-19 affected countries. In such a scenario, we doctors and other medical staff are exposed. We badly need protection. The government made an announcement but nothing has reached us. We do not know where the gap lies? Is it superintendents of hospitals have not given right requirement or is medical department not releasing them?”

The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Chandigarh too sourced 48 PPEs through crowd funding. Two former students of the 2009 MBBS batch, who are now doctors in the US and Singapore together raised Rs. 3 lakh online in three days for the safety gear. The doctors managed to raise the money through a GoFundMe campaign and Ketto.org.

Dr. Rohan Dhaliwal, ocular immunology fellow in Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston who started the campaign with Dr. Sahil Thakur, ocular epidemiology fellow in Singapore Eye Research Institute told The Times of India, “The government acquisition procedures and policies are slow and people unwilling to think or do anything outside the box. It all started when we saw an online post from a GMCH resident doctor about the shortage of PPEs. Dr. Sahil and I got together to help our GMCH family in testing times.”

“We had 95 contributors. The PPE is worth Rs. 2.6 lakh and includes 100 PPE routine gear, 250 N-95 masks and 100 full body suits. We are looking for a vendor of N-95 and PPE to spend the remaining Rs. 40,000,” he added.

Confirming the endeavor, medical superintendent Dr. Ravi Gupta said, “The contribution was for 100 PPEs, which cannot be received in one lot, so we have got 48 at the moment. The next lot will come soon. This is a big boost in the fight against Covid-19.”

In Mysuru, looking at the dire need of PPEs for healthcare workers involved in the direct care of patients, the Round Table India (Mysuru Chapter), 41ers club and the Ladies Circle India came forward to raise funds through crowd funding for the procurement of these essential equipment, reported Star of Mysore.

In Bengaluru, Fracktal Works, a Bengaluru based startup, centered on 3D printer manufacturing and product development, launched a crowd funding campaign on Sunday, reported TOI. Within 10 hours, they reached the target of Rs. 1.5 lakh, to produce 1,000 face shields. Overwhelmed with the support, they are now looking to raise Rs. 5 lakh for 3,000 face shields. Rohit Asil, a member of the core team of the company said, “These face shields will be donated to specific hospitals that are away from cities, where there are no proper logistics, are difficult to reach and there are less doctors. We have also received calls from Gwalior, where a small nursing home has been converted into a Covid-19 relief center. The face shields will be shipped by Tuesday.”

It is heartening to see the medical fraternity coming together to contribute for their fellow mates when they need it the most. With cases of coronavirus rising in India and more than 50 healthcare workers already falling prey to the infection, there is an obvious in delay in the government’s strategy reaching to the healthcare personnel on ground. Whether it is a manufacturing or distribution delay, it will cause irreparable damage if the required equipment doesn’t come in soon, thereby putting the lives of the leaders of the Covid-19 war on the line.

Related:

Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?
Indian medics: Why should we risk our lives?
Covid-19 stigma: Medical professionals ostracized and evicted from rented homes
Doctors need more protective gear now, before COVID-19 cases explode
Covid-19: Ventilator, PPE shortages put India’s frontline healthcare staff at risk

Related Articles


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Bizarre letter to CJI seeks demolition of Markaz building, CBI probe in “COVID conspiracy”

This letter petition is written by founder of a right-wing organization and is based on feeble grounds and baseless allegations

08 Apr 2020

CJIImage Courtesy:barandbench.com

The Supreme Court has received an unusual petition in the form of a letter. While most of the recent PILs in Supreme Court speak of payment of wages to migrant workers, action against spread of fake news, release of prisoners from over crowded prisons, this letter petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India calls for a ban on Tablighi Jamaat and its activities.

This letter has been written by Ajay Gautam, founder of Hum Hindu, a body “against politics of Muslim appeasement”. He has urged the court to take cognizance of his letter as a Public interest Litigation. The Tablighi Jamaat congregation has been criticised widely for continuing the meeting with around 2,000 people, even after prohibitory orders were issued by the Delhi government, against gatherings of more than 50 persons.

The petition states, “It is submitted that Hundreds of foreigners of 61 countries who were came on tourist Visa joined above gathering for propagating Islam in India. It is further submitted that hundreds of foreigners who joined the gathering came from where the Coronavirus already spread in large numbers. It is further submitted that the above named organization hid this information from the concerned agency.”

The petition further states, “Thousands of participators/Jemaateis including foreign nationals were evacuate/arrested/detained by the police from hundreds of mosques/Madarsas who were hide themselves after many advisories issued by agencies. That thousands of participators/Jemaateis are still out of reach from the hands of agencies and spreading this pandemic among the citizens in every part of India."

The petition further alleges that this was all a part of a planned conspiracy and that the Jamaat members used COVID19 as a bio weapon to wage a war against the Union of India. The petition further makes demands such as institution of a CBI level probe in the role of the Jamaat in spreading COVID19 across the country; and additionally, their role in the north east Delhi riots which took place in February.

The petition also goes on to allege that the building of Markaz in Nizamuddin is an illegal structure and seeks demolition of the building as well as a ban on the activities of the organization, Tablighi Jamaat.

This letter petition has come right after a legitimate PIL was filed by a Mumbai based organization called Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind seeking strict action against news media for communalizing the Tablighi Jamaat incident and spreading false news.

The letter petition sent by the founder of a Hindutva organization reeks of Islamophobia and speaks the same language which the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind petition has criticised as harming the secular fabric of the country. In the current scenario, when the Supreme Court is only hearing “urgent matters”, one can only wait to see whether the apex court finds this petition worthy of its time and limited resources.

The Letter petition can be read here.

Related:

SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week
Plea in SC seeking strict action for communalizing of Tablighi Jamat incident by news media
Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake

Bizarre letter to CJI seeks demolition of Markaz building, CBI probe in “COVID conspiracy”

This letter petition is written by founder of a right-wing organization and is based on feeble grounds and baseless allegations

CJIImage Courtesy:barandbench.com

The Supreme Court has received an unusual petition in the form of a letter. While most of the recent PILs in Supreme Court speak of payment of wages to migrant workers, action against spread of fake news, release of prisoners from over crowded prisons, this letter petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India calls for a ban on Tablighi Jamaat and its activities.

This letter has been written by Ajay Gautam, founder of Hum Hindu, a body “against politics of Muslim appeasement”. He has urged the court to take cognizance of his letter as a Public interest Litigation. The Tablighi Jamaat congregation has been criticised widely for continuing the meeting with around 2,000 people, even after prohibitory orders were issued by the Delhi government, against gatherings of more than 50 persons.

The petition states, “It is submitted that Hundreds of foreigners of 61 countries who were came on tourist Visa joined above gathering for propagating Islam in India. It is further submitted that hundreds of foreigners who joined the gathering came from where the Coronavirus already spread in large numbers. It is further submitted that the above named organization hid this information from the concerned agency.”

The petition further states, “Thousands of participators/Jemaateis including foreign nationals were evacuate/arrested/detained by the police from hundreds of mosques/Madarsas who were hide themselves after many advisories issued by agencies. That thousands of participators/Jemaateis are still out of reach from the hands of agencies and spreading this pandemic among the citizens in every part of India."

The petition further alleges that this was all a part of a planned conspiracy and that the Jamaat members used COVID19 as a bio weapon to wage a war against the Union of India. The petition further makes demands such as institution of a CBI level probe in the role of the Jamaat in spreading COVID19 across the country; and additionally, their role in the north east Delhi riots which took place in February.

The petition also goes on to allege that the building of Markaz in Nizamuddin is an illegal structure and seeks demolition of the building as well as a ban on the activities of the organization, Tablighi Jamaat.

This letter petition has come right after a legitimate PIL was filed by a Mumbai based organization called Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind seeking strict action against news media for communalizing the Tablighi Jamaat incident and spreading false news.

The letter petition sent by the founder of a Hindutva organization reeks of Islamophobia and speaks the same language which the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind petition has criticised as harming the secular fabric of the country. In the current scenario, when the Supreme Court is only hearing “urgent matters”, one can only wait to see whether the apex court finds this petition worthy of its time and limited resources.

The Letter petition can be read here.

Related:

SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week
Plea in SC seeking strict action for communalizing of Tablighi Jamat incident by news media
Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake

Related Articles


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UP police enters homes, brutally attacks people for allegedly violating lockdown!

An FIR has been registered against 150 people and 43 people have been booked under Sec 144 of CrPC

08 Apr 2020

LockdownImage Courtesy:nationalheraldindia.com

Reports of police brutality are coming in from Uttar Pradesh where police personnel allegedly attacked various people in the Karampur Chaudhury village in the state’s Bareilly district in a bid to enforce the lockdown in the area.

Videos of the police brutally beating up men with lathis and arresting women are making the rounds. The Bareilly police can also be seen going through the village threatening people that if they came out of their homes, they would face dire consequences for the same.

The version of the incident according to the police

Various print and electronic media have carried the news in which the police’s version is this. Senior police officer Ravindra Singh told the media, “Several booked for attacking policemen enforcing lockdown in UP's Bareilly today. Later a mob of around 200 people created a ruckus at the police station. IPS Abhishek Verma and some other police personnel have sustained injuries in the attack. We have taken some people into custody and booked them under Section 144 of CrPC, relevant sections of the IPC.”

He further added that the police had videos of the incident and that they would punish the people involved in the incident based on those videos. He said, “We have videos of the incident and we will identify the people involved in this. We have identified a few of them, rest will be identified and punished. We will deal with hooliganism strictly.”

India TV spoke to IPS Abhishek Verma who was injured in the incident. He said, “Our police team had gone to the Karampur Chaudhary village and was making people aware of the lockdown rules. They then found some people sitting outside and when the police told them to return to their homes, they got agitated and the Pradhan then reached the police station with a crowd of about 200 people and gheraoed it in a bid to set it ablaze. That is when I and other officers were informed. We reached the site and even after telling them to disperse, they didn’t, which is why we had to use slight force on them.”

On being asked who he thought was behind the incident, he said that primarily it was the Pradhan of the village who seemed to be the perpetrator after he got 300 – 400 people to attack the police.

In another police briefing, the SSP Shailesh Pandey said that a group of around 70 – 80 people had attacked the police station. He said, “Our team had gone to Karampur Chaudhury where they saw some boys violating the lockdown and the police team asked them to leave the site and return home. Post that some instigated 70 – 80 people from the village and got a boy to the police station saying that the police had beaten him up. Post that we conducted the boy’s medical check-up and it was confirmed that he hadn’t sustained any injuries. Post this the teams of other stations came and used adequate force to disperse the people. 43 people were arrested and we have taken videos of the incident. Whoever is found to be responsible, will not be spared and booked under serious charges.”

On April 7, NDTV reported that and FIR was registered against 150 people for allegedly attacking the police team. Out of this, 42 people were arrested, out of which three women were released on bail.

Activists paint a different picture

However, Sabrang India spoke to Sadaf Jafar, a political activist who has earlier been unjustly targeted and attacked by the UP police about the incident. Sadaf said, “The UP police is still reeling from the anger of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protest. It couldn’t do much then because the women were at the forefront of the agitation. The UP police is communal. The videos I have seen versus the videos that are making the rounds on the news, have a lot of discrepancy between them. The police has said that they were provoked by the people to conduct a lathi charge. They also said that they had conducted a medical check-up of the boy.”

Recounting her brutal assault by the UP police in jail she said, “I know what medical check-ups by the police are like. Medics are always pro-police in such matters. If the crowd had still gheraoed the police it station, it can only mean that the police had in fact beaten up the boy. Now 43 people have been arrested under the National Security Act (NSA). This is a huge amount of people arrested, especially when the police is decongesting jails by releasing prisoners on parole due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

“If there is such a dire situation in the country due to Covid-19, why has the UP Police caught so many people and put them in jail? Also, the videos of the police that have come to light where they are saying 'Police walon pe hamla kar rahe ho? Himmat hai toh aa jao. Ek bhi aa jaao' (You’re attacking the police? If you have the guts, come out, even one of you come out), while patrolling the lanes, does it sound like an advisory or a threat?”

On being asked if the whole incident was being given a communal colour, Sadaf said, “Earlier, I saw the reports on Facebook where some reporters had put up the videos saying that the Tablighis are not changing their ways and this is what the police was doing to control them. This is how they are giving the incident a communal colour. Now, in the name of coronavirus, they are getting a chance to demonise the Muslims. This has been going on for such a long time. Even me, along with the people whose names appeared on the posters in Lucknow post the anti-CAA NRC protests, were called worse than the coronavirus. This just shows how much hatred they have for the Muslim community.

“What the Tabhligi Jamaat did was unjustifiable and criminal, but criminalizing the rest of the people is unjustified too. The police in Bareilly look like they’re out for blood, for an encounter. Why did they lathi charge the women? How bad was the crime that they were booked under the NSA?” she asked.

“The entire onus of the coronavirus fiasco is on the Tablighi Jamaat now. No one will talk about the shortages of PPEs, less testing and no facilities for patients suffering from other ailments in hospitals. This is how communal the issue is. The poor are left to die as they can’t avail treatment in private hospitals. These deaths, if any, will not be counted in the coronavirus death count. No one cares about their lives. The police and the administration are only serving the upper class.”

While those working on the frontlines to ensure that the lockdown regulations are followed peacefully, the brutality of the UP police on the men and women, especially in such circumstances, by going to people’s homes and allegedly charging them with batons is just a reflection of the hatemongering, blood thirsty mentality of the administration.

Activists have also sent CJP these videos that show the police entering homes and not even sparing women, using their lathis to beat them up.

 

 

Related:

Nobody can intimidate India, nor threaten us: Opposition to PM
Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?

UP police enters homes, brutally attacks people for allegedly violating lockdown!

An FIR has been registered against 150 people and 43 people have been booked under Sec 144 of CrPC

LockdownImage Courtesy:nationalheraldindia.com

Reports of police brutality are coming in from Uttar Pradesh where police personnel allegedly attacked various people in the Karampur Chaudhury village in the state’s Bareilly district in a bid to enforce the lockdown in the area.

Videos of the police brutally beating up men with lathis and arresting women are making the rounds. The Bareilly police can also be seen going through the village threatening people that if they came out of their homes, they would face dire consequences for the same.

The version of the incident according to the police

Various print and electronic media have carried the news in which the police’s version is this. Senior police officer Ravindra Singh told the media, “Several booked for attacking policemen enforcing lockdown in UP's Bareilly today. Later a mob of around 200 people created a ruckus at the police station. IPS Abhishek Verma and some other police personnel have sustained injuries in the attack. We have taken some people into custody and booked them under Section 144 of CrPC, relevant sections of the IPC.”

He further added that the police had videos of the incident and that they would punish the people involved in the incident based on those videos. He said, “We have videos of the incident and we will identify the people involved in this. We have identified a few of them, rest will be identified and punished. We will deal with hooliganism strictly.”

India TV spoke to IPS Abhishek Verma who was injured in the incident. He said, “Our police team had gone to the Karampur Chaudhary village and was making people aware of the lockdown rules. They then found some people sitting outside and when the police told them to return to their homes, they got agitated and the Pradhan then reached the police station with a crowd of about 200 people and gheraoed it in a bid to set it ablaze. That is when I and other officers were informed. We reached the site and even after telling them to disperse, they didn’t, which is why we had to use slight force on them.”

On being asked who he thought was behind the incident, he said that primarily it was the Pradhan of the village who seemed to be the perpetrator after he got 300 – 400 people to attack the police.

In another police briefing, the SSP Shailesh Pandey said that a group of around 70 – 80 people had attacked the police station. He said, “Our team had gone to Karampur Chaudhury where they saw some boys violating the lockdown and the police team asked them to leave the site and return home. Post that some instigated 70 – 80 people from the village and got a boy to the police station saying that the police had beaten him up. Post that we conducted the boy’s medical check-up and it was confirmed that he hadn’t sustained any injuries. Post this the teams of other stations came and used adequate force to disperse the people. 43 people were arrested and we have taken videos of the incident. Whoever is found to be responsible, will not be spared and booked under serious charges.”

On April 7, NDTV reported that and FIR was registered against 150 people for allegedly attacking the police team. Out of this, 42 people were arrested, out of which three women were released on bail.

Activists paint a different picture

However, Sabrang India spoke to Sadaf Jafar, a political activist who has earlier been unjustly targeted and attacked by the UP police about the incident. Sadaf said, “The UP police is still reeling from the anger of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protest. It couldn’t do much then because the women were at the forefront of the agitation. The UP police is communal. The videos I have seen versus the videos that are making the rounds on the news, have a lot of discrepancy between them. The police has said that they were provoked by the people to conduct a lathi charge. They also said that they had conducted a medical check-up of the boy.”

Recounting her brutal assault by the UP police in jail she said, “I know what medical check-ups by the police are like. Medics are always pro-police in such matters. If the crowd had still gheraoed the police it station, it can only mean that the police had in fact beaten up the boy. Now 43 people have been arrested under the National Security Act (NSA). This is a huge amount of people arrested, especially when the police is decongesting jails by releasing prisoners on parole due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

“If there is such a dire situation in the country due to Covid-19, why has the UP Police caught so many people and put them in jail? Also, the videos of the police that have come to light where they are saying 'Police walon pe hamla kar rahe ho? Himmat hai toh aa jao. Ek bhi aa jaao' (You’re attacking the police? If you have the guts, come out, even one of you come out), while patrolling the lanes, does it sound like an advisory or a threat?”

On being asked if the whole incident was being given a communal colour, Sadaf said, “Earlier, I saw the reports on Facebook where some reporters had put up the videos saying that the Tablighis are not changing their ways and this is what the police was doing to control them. This is how they are giving the incident a communal colour. Now, in the name of coronavirus, they are getting a chance to demonise the Muslims. This has been going on for such a long time. Even me, along with the people whose names appeared on the posters in Lucknow post the anti-CAA NRC protests, were called worse than the coronavirus. This just shows how much hatred they have for the Muslim community.

“What the Tabhligi Jamaat did was unjustifiable and criminal, but criminalizing the rest of the people is unjustified too. The police in Bareilly look like they’re out for blood, for an encounter. Why did they lathi charge the women? How bad was the crime that they were booked under the NSA?” she asked.

“The entire onus of the coronavirus fiasco is on the Tablighi Jamaat now. No one will talk about the shortages of PPEs, less testing and no facilities for patients suffering from other ailments in hospitals. This is how communal the issue is. The poor are left to die as they can’t avail treatment in private hospitals. These deaths, if any, will not be counted in the coronavirus death count. No one cares about their lives. The police and the administration are only serving the upper class.”

While those working on the frontlines to ensure that the lockdown regulations are followed peacefully, the brutality of the UP police on the men and women, especially in such circumstances, by going to people’s homes and allegedly charging them with batons is just a reflection of the hatemongering, blood thirsty mentality of the administration.

Activists have also sent CJP these videos that show the police entering homes and not even sparing women, using their lathis to beat them up.

 

 

Related:

Nobody can intimidate India, nor threaten us: Opposition to PM
Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?

Related Articles


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Sedition charge slapped on Assam MLA for “objectionable” comments on quarantine facilities

The complaint was filed on the basis an audio clip which went viral and was allegedly shared by the MLA himself

08 Apr 2020

Sedition ChargeImage Courtesy:ndtv.com

On April 7, Assam MLA Aminul Islam was arrested on some serious charges of sedition after he allegedly made some comments about the quarantine facilities where the Tablighi Jamaat returnees were kept. The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the political party to which he belongs, immediately distanced itself from the comments made by Islam saying they are his personal comments and the party had nothing to do with it. The party in fact issued a statement that the party condemned his comments and that the law must take its own course.

The Telegraph reported that H.R.A. Choudhury, chairman of the Minorities Consultative Committee, Assam, an umbrella body of leading Muslim organisations, also said it was Islam’s personal comment and that the law would take its own course.

Islam, who is a senior opposition and hails from Dhing constituency was arrested on charges of Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 124A (sedition) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the IPC. He has been sent to 14 days of judicial custody by a local court in Nagaon.

The complaint was made on the basis of a widely circulated audio clip of a conversation between Islam and an unidentified person. In this audio clip, Islam allegedly said that the quarantine centres in Assam were worse than detention centres and he allegedly blamed the state government for sending healthy Tablighi Jamaat returnees to quarantine and that the state government was trying to defame them by tagging them as COVID19 positive patients. Mr. Islam also allegedly accused the state government of conspiring against Muslims and further claimed that the medical staff in the quarantine were harassing the Jamaat returnees  and giving injections to healthy people.

Nagaon’s deputy commissioner Jadav Saikia claimed that the social media was misused by Islam for spreading wrong information. On questioning, Mr. Islam, reportedly confessed that the voice in the clip was his and that he was the one who circulated the audio clip through Whatsapp.

Why sedition?

The charge of sedition, however seems misplaced in this case. The offence is categorised as a non bailable offence for which the punishment is a minimum of three years and can go up to life imprisonment plus fine. 

Sedition, under section 124A of IPC is defined as follows:

Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards,  the Government estab­lished by law in India, shall be punished with im­prisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with impris­onment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. 

This section within Indian criminal law has been widely misused by governments, especially of late. There has been much debate on the necessity of retaining a section in our law that harks back to the laws of the colonial era law when we were under a repressive regime under the British. How does such a section merit existence in a democracy? Does it not give unbalanced power to the state and its law enforcement? The charge of sedition was used by our colonizers, the British government, to discourage criticism of the government, severely curtailing both freedom movement and expression. The need of the law of sedition in a democracy, with a duly elected government is far from justified. Any valid criticism of the government may also be classified as sedition if it has a tendency to excite contempt towards the government.

In the recent past as well, charge of sedition has been arbitrarily used by governments, specially in the background of ardent protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). For example, in the case of the Karnataka school play which criticised the Prime Minister, sedition was slapped on the principal of the school and a parent of one of the school children who participated in the play. Further, in Jharkhand around 3,000 people were slapped with sedition charge for carrying out a protest rally against CAA without taking requisite permission. This case was however dealt with by the state government by dropping the charge of sedition against the protesters.

In the present case, however, the statements of Mr. Islam may be perceived as being false news and wrong information being passed on by him. This is surely not a one-off incident where people knowingly or unknowingly pass on information which may be false and end up criticising the government basis the same. While this may deserve a rap especially at the time of national crisis that this pandemic has become, surely the charge of sedition is not justified. There are other laws that take care of such offences, especially in the current times when a few laws have been specially invoked to deal with the epidemic outbreak of COVID19.

The section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, under which COVID19 has been declared a “notified disaster” seems ideal in this case.

54. Punishment for false warning.—Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine. —Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine."

Given the current situation where the country is dealing with an unprecedented health crisis, the government’s focus should be on dealing with it by making use of suitable laws instead of invoking serious charges on relatively less serious offences. This will not only help the justice system to cope with the burden of cases but will also help the law enforcement focus primarily on enforcing epidemic related laws.

Related:

Woman inmate of Kokrajhar Detention Camp dies
Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake
Nobody can intimidate India, nor threaten us: Opposition to PM

Sedition charge slapped on Assam MLA for “objectionable” comments on quarantine facilities

The complaint was filed on the basis an audio clip which went viral and was allegedly shared by the MLA himself

Sedition ChargeImage Courtesy:ndtv.com

On April 7, Assam MLA Aminul Islam was arrested on some serious charges of sedition after he allegedly made some comments about the quarantine facilities where the Tablighi Jamaat returnees were kept. The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the political party to which he belongs, immediately distanced itself from the comments made by Islam saying they are his personal comments and the party had nothing to do with it. The party in fact issued a statement that the party condemned his comments and that the law must take its own course.

The Telegraph reported that H.R.A. Choudhury, chairman of the Minorities Consultative Committee, Assam, an umbrella body of leading Muslim organisations, also said it was Islam’s personal comment and that the law would take its own course.

Islam, who is a senior opposition and hails from Dhing constituency was arrested on charges of Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 124A (sedition) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the IPC. He has been sent to 14 days of judicial custody by a local court in Nagaon.

The complaint was made on the basis of a widely circulated audio clip of a conversation between Islam and an unidentified person. In this audio clip, Islam allegedly said that the quarantine centres in Assam were worse than detention centres and he allegedly blamed the state government for sending healthy Tablighi Jamaat returnees to quarantine and that the state government was trying to defame them by tagging them as COVID19 positive patients. Mr. Islam also allegedly accused the state government of conspiring against Muslims and further claimed that the medical staff in the quarantine were harassing the Jamaat returnees  and giving injections to healthy people.

Nagaon’s deputy commissioner Jadav Saikia claimed that the social media was misused by Islam for spreading wrong information. On questioning, Mr. Islam, reportedly confessed that the voice in the clip was his and that he was the one who circulated the audio clip through Whatsapp.

Why sedition?

The charge of sedition, however seems misplaced in this case. The offence is categorised as a non bailable offence for which the punishment is a minimum of three years and can go up to life imprisonment plus fine. 

Sedition, under section 124A of IPC is defined as follows:

Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards,  the Government estab­lished by law in India, shall be punished with im­prisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with impris­onment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. 

This section within Indian criminal law has been widely misused by governments, especially of late. There has been much debate on the necessity of retaining a section in our law that harks back to the laws of the colonial era law when we were under a repressive regime under the British. How does such a section merit existence in a democracy? Does it not give unbalanced power to the state and its law enforcement? The charge of sedition was used by our colonizers, the British government, to discourage criticism of the government, severely curtailing both freedom movement and expression. The need of the law of sedition in a democracy, with a duly elected government is far from justified. Any valid criticism of the government may also be classified as sedition if it has a tendency to excite contempt towards the government.

In the recent past as well, charge of sedition has been arbitrarily used by governments, specially in the background of ardent protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). For example, in the case of the Karnataka school play which criticised the Prime Minister, sedition was slapped on the principal of the school and a parent of one of the school children who participated in the play. Further, in Jharkhand around 3,000 people were slapped with sedition charge for carrying out a protest rally against CAA without taking requisite permission. This case was however dealt with by the state government by dropping the charge of sedition against the protesters.

In the present case, however, the statements of Mr. Islam may be perceived as being false news and wrong information being passed on by him. This is surely not a one-off incident where people knowingly or unknowingly pass on information which may be false and end up criticising the government basis the same. While this may deserve a rap especially at the time of national crisis that this pandemic has become, surely the charge of sedition is not justified. There are other laws that take care of such offences, especially in the current times when a few laws have been specially invoked to deal with the epidemic outbreak of COVID19.

The section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, under which COVID19 has been declared a “notified disaster” seems ideal in this case.

54. Punishment for false warning.—Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine. —Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine."

Given the current situation where the country is dealing with an unprecedented health crisis, the government’s focus should be on dealing with it by making use of suitable laws instead of invoking serious charges on relatively less serious offences. This will not only help the justice system to cope with the burden of cases but will also help the law enforcement focus primarily on enforcing epidemic related laws.

Related:

Woman inmate of Kokrajhar Detention Camp dies
Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake
Nobody can intimidate India, nor threaten us: Opposition to PM

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Nobody can intimidate India, nor threaten us: Opposition to PM

In fight against Covid-19, Indians have a first right over life saving drug hydroxychloroquine!

08 Apr 2020

MedicineImage Courtesy: deccanherald.com

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has served as  under Secretary General of the United Nations, has continued to keep the spotlight on India’s export of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), and other drugs, to the United States of America, in face of a possible ‘retaliation’ if the earlier ban continued.

Today, on April 8, Tharoor bounced the ball back in the court of  US President Trump and asked him to give something back in return for HCQ, “Mr President @realDonaldTrump, since India has selflessly agreed to give you the supply you seek of hydroxychloroquine, will you grant India first priority in sharing with us any #COVID19 vaccine that might be developed in US labs?”

On April 7, he had  also taken on Trump’s claim on the medication,  “Never in my decades of experience in world affairs have I heard a Head of State or Govt openly threatening another like this. What makes Indian hydroxychloroquine ‘our supply’, Mr President? It only becomes your supply when India decides to sell it to you.” he said.

Senior Congress leader and its working committee member  Randeep Singh Surjewala, had reflected a collective ire against the Centre’s decision to restart exporting hydroxychloroquine after  US Presidents said he may ‘retaliate’ if India did not comply. Surejewala’s short video that he posted on social media sums up the collective reaction Of the Opposition, as well as many citizens who were taken aback at how swiftly the ban was lifted on the slightest pressure from Trump.

Lifting the ban, Opposition parties have said that was a betrayal of Indians whose needs for medicines should be priorities before any exports are allowed. “No one can browbeat, pressurize or intimidate India. Smt. Indira Gandhi laid the template for future governments. In fight against #COVID, Indian have a first right over life saving drug hydroxychloroquine! Time to follow “Raj Dharma” & “India First” policy!” posted Surjewala. 

Prime Minister Modi’s quick response to the US President's statement is seen as a sign of weakness by many. Indian political leaders have said that the PM should have, in fact, stood up to the US president's intimidating words. According to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, the statement by the US President was unacceptable and PM Modi had, “succumbed to the threat by allowing the export. That this happened after an expensive gala was organised for him by Modi, instead of preparing to contain Covid-19, shows how this government has let down India.”

According to news reports, Yechury also said that India should prioritise the medical  requirements of Indians first as the nation is fighting against Covid-19 pandemic. He said that India could not afford to risk any “shortages of crucial drugs here. There are no compromises in this struggle to protect Indian lives.”

Senior leaders, who themselves have been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic in their own states have also criticised the fact that the ban was lifted without even consulting state governments. According to a report in the Hindu, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has criticized the export of HCQ and said PPEs and other lifesaving equipment has also been exported by the Indian government recently. “A huge number of PPEs and ventilators were exported in the last few days. No details of this have been provided by the Centre yet. This is beyond our understanding,” he said. All the equipment, specially PPEs need to be stockpiled as the Coronavirus pandemic progresses to the next stages across India. According to Gehlot, the Rajasthan government may have to import  PPEs from China to combat the shortfall. “It is a question of life and death. The Centre will have to consider all the aspects. We have to save the lives of people. That should be the first priority,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi and President Trump have always showcased their interactions at massive political events, in India recently and in America before that, as ‘friendship’ between two nations. However is this the time to be friendship, or responsible leadership, is what many are asking. 

Why would Trump even mention ‘relailation if he was a friend of India?' was a point raised. Congress’s media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala had said Trump has no right to threaten India or put pressure on Prime Minister Modi to lift the ban on import. “We hope Modi will take diplomatic measures against such language used by the US President and ensure the safety of Indians,” Surjewala said.

News reports quoted Congress leader and Member of Parliament, Rahul Gandhi saying that  retaliation should not be a factor, “India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first,” he said.

The demand for the drug in the US has been fueled by the president himself mentioning it as a possible cure. However, leading american scientists, including White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci, said the reports that the drug might work were “anecdotal, and said there needs to be further study before its use is encouraged.”

According to Bloomberg Indian manufacturers exported and fulfilled around 47%  of hydroxychloroquine requirements of the U.S, last year. This would have come to a standstill after the ban on the anti-malaria drug that had been “touted by President Donald Trump as a “game changer” for treating the coronavirus” said the report.

India’s export ban, it explained, was aimed at ensuring enough domestic supply for Indians to use. Trump’s personal endorsement of HCQ had set off a massive stockpiling of the anti-malaria medication around the world, said another Bloomberg report. Many countries had banned exports of various items, from food grains, to masks, to certain medication and equipment, to prioritise and meet domestic needs and demands first.

Related:

Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?
ICMR revises Covid-19 testing protocol

Nobody can intimidate India, nor threaten us: Opposition to PM

In fight against Covid-19, Indians have a first right over life saving drug hydroxychloroquine!

MedicineImage Courtesy: deccanherald.com

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has served as  under Secretary General of the United Nations, has continued to keep the spotlight on India’s export of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), and other drugs, to the United States of America, in face of a possible ‘retaliation’ if the earlier ban continued.

Today, on April 8, Tharoor bounced the ball back in the court of  US President Trump and asked him to give something back in return for HCQ, “Mr President @realDonaldTrump, since India has selflessly agreed to give you the supply you seek of hydroxychloroquine, will you grant India first priority in sharing with us any #COVID19 vaccine that might be developed in US labs?”

On April 7, he had  also taken on Trump’s claim on the medication,  “Never in my decades of experience in world affairs have I heard a Head of State or Govt openly threatening another like this. What makes Indian hydroxychloroquine ‘our supply’, Mr President? It only becomes your supply when India decides to sell it to you.” he said.

Senior Congress leader and its working committee member  Randeep Singh Surjewala, had reflected a collective ire against the Centre’s decision to restart exporting hydroxychloroquine after  US Presidents said he may ‘retaliate’ if India did not comply. Surejewala’s short video that he posted on social media sums up the collective reaction Of the Opposition, as well as many citizens who were taken aback at how swiftly the ban was lifted on the slightest pressure from Trump.

Lifting the ban, Opposition parties have said that was a betrayal of Indians whose needs for medicines should be priorities before any exports are allowed. “No one can browbeat, pressurize or intimidate India. Smt. Indira Gandhi laid the template for future governments. In fight against #COVID, Indian have a first right over life saving drug hydroxychloroquine! Time to follow “Raj Dharma” & “India First” policy!” posted Surjewala. 

Prime Minister Modi’s quick response to the US President's statement is seen as a sign of weakness by many. Indian political leaders have said that the PM should have, in fact, stood up to the US president's intimidating words. According to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, the statement by the US President was unacceptable and PM Modi had, “succumbed to the threat by allowing the export. That this happened after an expensive gala was organised for him by Modi, instead of preparing to contain Covid-19, shows how this government has let down India.”

According to news reports, Yechury also said that India should prioritise the medical  requirements of Indians first as the nation is fighting against Covid-19 pandemic. He said that India could not afford to risk any “shortages of crucial drugs here. There are no compromises in this struggle to protect Indian lives.”

Senior leaders, who themselves have been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic in their own states have also criticised the fact that the ban was lifted without even consulting state governments. According to a report in the Hindu, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has criticized the export of HCQ and said PPEs and other lifesaving equipment has also been exported by the Indian government recently. “A huge number of PPEs and ventilators were exported in the last few days. No details of this have been provided by the Centre yet. This is beyond our understanding,” he said. All the equipment, specially PPEs need to be stockpiled as the Coronavirus pandemic progresses to the next stages across India. According to Gehlot, the Rajasthan government may have to import  PPEs from China to combat the shortfall. “It is a question of life and death. The Centre will have to consider all the aspects. We have to save the lives of people. That should be the first priority,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi and President Trump have always showcased their interactions at massive political events, in India recently and in America before that, as ‘friendship’ between two nations. However is this the time to be friendship, or responsible leadership, is what many are asking. 

Why would Trump even mention ‘relailation if he was a friend of India?' was a point raised. Congress’s media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala had said Trump has no right to threaten India or put pressure on Prime Minister Modi to lift the ban on import. “We hope Modi will take diplomatic measures against such language used by the US President and ensure the safety of Indians,” Surjewala said.

News reports quoted Congress leader and Member of Parliament, Rahul Gandhi saying that  retaliation should not be a factor, “India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first,” he said.

The demand for the drug in the US has been fueled by the president himself mentioning it as a possible cure. However, leading american scientists, including White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci, said the reports that the drug might work were “anecdotal, and said there needs to be further study before its use is encouraged.”

According to Bloomberg Indian manufacturers exported and fulfilled around 47%  of hydroxychloroquine requirements of the U.S, last year. This would have come to a standstill after the ban on the anti-malaria drug that had been “touted by President Donald Trump as a “game changer” for treating the coronavirus” said the report.

India’s export ban, it explained, was aimed at ensuring enough domestic supply for Indians to use. Trump’s personal endorsement of HCQ had set off a massive stockpiling of the anti-malaria medication around the world, said another Bloomberg report. Many countries had banned exports of various items, from food grains, to masks, to certain medication and equipment, to prioritise and meet domestic needs and demands first.

Related:

Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?
ICMR revises Covid-19 testing protocol

Related Articles


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Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake

Names and other personal information of attendees becomes public, roads being blocked to “keep the Muslims and Coronavirus” away

08 Apr 2020

Tablighi JamaatImage Courtesy: daily-sun.com

“Alert ~ one more #Covid_19 positive case from Dhubri District has been confirmed, taking the total number in Assam to 27, This patient is related to #NizamuddinMarkaz event in Delhi. Update at 9.25 am / April 7”, tweeted the state’s health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Commendable that he is keeping a keen eye, however the fact that he chooses to add hashtags identifying the patient as someone connected to Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz, adds fuel to the embers that threaten to reignite communal passions in Assam.

His adding such hashtags makes it easier for online mobs to share information, on other social media specially whatsapp groups. Some use such information to spread misinformation and fuel online, and offline hate. That the figures come from the minister lends credibility to their claims that members of the Jamaat are the ones who carried Coronavirus into the state. The first Covid-19 positive case was someone who had returned from the Markaz, his name and other details had been shared online. A move that made not just him vulnerable, but also exposed his family, contacts to unwanted attention.

Then the names of others who returned from Delhi and whose tests came back Covid-19 positive also started circulating in some groups. This has fuelled anger against all Muslims across the state. The average citizen obviously did not spend time in understanding the difference between those who had attended the Jamaat event in Delhi, and other Muslims. To them this was “Corona Jihad” that all Muslims were accused of spreading in the state. 

On the streets of Assam, especially in the interior areas of Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Sontipur, some village roads were blocked as people wanted to “keep the Muslims and Coronavirus” away. Eventually the Sonitpur district administration had to intervene and order that all public roads should be opened.

On Tuesday, April 7 A sedition Case has been filed against the Opposition MLA Aminul Islam who had allegedly said that the state’s quarantine facilities are "worse than detention centres". According to an NDTV report these remarks have been seen as communal comments. “In an audio clip, purportedly of the MLA and another person, Aminul Islam allegedly said that the coronavirus quarantine centres in Assam are "dangerous and worse than detention centres" meant for illegal migrants,” states the news report, adding, “Mr Islam had also accused the BJP government in Assam of conspiring against Muslims. He also alleged that the medical staff at the quarantine centres was harassing those who had returned.

According to sources, the Assam Police had sought, and received permission from the Assembly Speaker to go ahead with this arrest.

The Police had also issued a final warning to those who had returned to the state after attending the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Delhi, that they must come to the nearest hospital for medical examinations by April 7. If they continued to evade examinations for whatever reason, the police warned them that they will face strict legal action.

The Sentinel quotes the police notice: 

“This is the final appeal to those people who have come to Assam after being present at the Nizamuddin Markaz or have been to a State or country affected by COVID-19 recently. All such individuals are requested to present themselves at the nearest hospital or PHE by 6am, April.”

According to the report the police had already detained nine Nizamuddin attendees from Kharupetia, in Darang. “They hid in a home of one Yakub Ali. It has been alleged that Nizamuddin attendees have spread the novel coronavirus across the state,” it was reported.

The Assam Government has also said that those Jamaat members who have not yet gone to the state hospitals for COVID-19 testing will face criminal charges. Out of 27 COVID-19 positive cases in the state (at the time of publishing this report) 24 have been those who attended the Markaz, and two more of their contacts have also tested positive. All their names are out, said a local writer. 

Advocate Junaid, the Jamaat’s leader in Assam has been appealing to all those who came from Delhi to come ahead and get tested. He had apparently shared the details of the Markaz attendees, with the authorities, who already had the names given to them by the Delhi Police, say sources. 

According to sources, around 129 people are yet to report to the hospitals for testing. “We will file criminal cases against all the participants who do not follow our deadline,” Sarma was quoted in local news reports. He also said that even the family members or neighbours who were not helping the administration in tracing these missing Jamaatis will also face criminal charges for their “non-cooperation.”

While management committees of various mosques have been making public appeal that all Tablighi Jamaat members who came from Delhi come forth and get tested, the entire community is now bearing the brunt. 

According to a political observer from Guwahati, the Hindu and Muslim community had begun to feel a sense of solidarity durting the Anti-CAA movement. However, such a huge error made by Delhi's Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad, is dividing the people once again. Innocent Muslims who have no connection with the Tablighi Jamaat are being subjected to hateful looks and comments. They are now afraid that their worst nightmares of a communal backlash may just become reality if the situation is not controlled urgently. The onus of this lies with the local Tablighi Jamaat members, as much as it does with the state government and police to ensure peace.

Related:

Maulana Saad’s error of judgement has put an entire community at risk
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Muslims in Assam fear they may have to bear the brunt of Tablighi Jamaat’s mistake

Names and other personal information of attendees becomes public, roads being blocked to “keep the Muslims and Coronavirus” away

Tablighi JamaatImage Courtesy: daily-sun.com

“Alert ~ one more #Covid_19 positive case from Dhubri District has been confirmed, taking the total number in Assam to 27, This patient is related to #NizamuddinMarkaz event in Delhi. Update at 9.25 am / April 7”, tweeted the state’s health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Commendable that he is keeping a keen eye, however the fact that he chooses to add hashtags identifying the patient as someone connected to Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz, adds fuel to the embers that threaten to reignite communal passions in Assam.

His adding such hashtags makes it easier for online mobs to share information, on other social media specially whatsapp groups. Some use such information to spread misinformation and fuel online, and offline hate. That the figures come from the minister lends credibility to their claims that members of the Jamaat are the ones who carried Coronavirus into the state. The first Covid-19 positive case was someone who had returned from the Markaz, his name and other details had been shared online. A move that made not just him vulnerable, but also exposed his family, contacts to unwanted attention.

Then the names of others who returned from Delhi and whose tests came back Covid-19 positive also started circulating in some groups. This has fuelled anger against all Muslims across the state. The average citizen obviously did not spend time in understanding the difference between those who had attended the Jamaat event in Delhi, and other Muslims. To them this was “Corona Jihad” that all Muslims were accused of spreading in the state. 

On the streets of Assam, especially in the interior areas of Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Sontipur, some village roads were blocked as people wanted to “keep the Muslims and Coronavirus” away. Eventually the Sonitpur district administration had to intervene and order that all public roads should be opened.

On Tuesday, April 7 A sedition Case has been filed against the Opposition MLA Aminul Islam who had allegedly said that the state’s quarantine facilities are "worse than detention centres". According to an NDTV report these remarks have been seen as communal comments. “In an audio clip, purportedly of the MLA and another person, Aminul Islam allegedly said that the coronavirus quarantine centres in Assam are "dangerous and worse than detention centres" meant for illegal migrants,” states the news report, adding, “Mr Islam had also accused the BJP government in Assam of conspiring against Muslims. He also alleged that the medical staff at the quarantine centres was harassing those who had returned.

According to sources, the Assam Police had sought, and received permission from the Assembly Speaker to go ahead with this arrest.

The Police had also issued a final warning to those who had returned to the state after attending the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Delhi, that they must come to the nearest hospital for medical examinations by April 7. If they continued to evade examinations for whatever reason, the police warned them that they will face strict legal action.

The Sentinel quotes the police notice: 

“This is the final appeal to those people who have come to Assam after being present at the Nizamuddin Markaz or have been to a State or country affected by COVID-19 recently. All such individuals are requested to present themselves at the nearest hospital or PHE by 6am, April.”

According to the report the police had already detained nine Nizamuddin attendees from Kharupetia, in Darang. “They hid in a home of one Yakub Ali. It has been alleged that Nizamuddin attendees have spread the novel coronavirus across the state,” it was reported.

The Assam Government has also said that those Jamaat members who have not yet gone to the state hospitals for COVID-19 testing will face criminal charges. Out of 27 COVID-19 positive cases in the state (at the time of publishing this report) 24 have been those who attended the Markaz, and two more of their contacts have also tested positive. All their names are out, said a local writer. 

Advocate Junaid, the Jamaat’s leader in Assam has been appealing to all those who came from Delhi to come ahead and get tested. He had apparently shared the details of the Markaz attendees, with the authorities, who already had the names given to them by the Delhi Police, say sources. 

According to sources, around 129 people are yet to report to the hospitals for testing. “We will file criminal cases against all the participants who do not follow our deadline,” Sarma was quoted in local news reports. He also said that even the family members or neighbours who were not helping the administration in tracing these missing Jamaatis will also face criminal charges for their “non-cooperation.”

While management committees of various mosques have been making public appeal that all Tablighi Jamaat members who came from Delhi come forth and get tested, the entire community is now bearing the brunt. 

According to a political observer from Guwahati, the Hindu and Muslim community had begun to feel a sense of solidarity durting the Anti-CAA movement. However, such a huge error made by Delhi's Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad, is dividing the people once again. Innocent Muslims who have no connection with the Tablighi Jamaat are being subjected to hateful looks and comments. They are now afraid that their worst nightmares of a communal backlash may just become reality if the situation is not controlled urgently. The onus of this lies with the local Tablighi Jamaat members, as much as it does with the state government and police to ensure peace.

Related:

Maulana Saad’s error of judgement has put an entire community at risk
Muslim truckers assaulted in Arunachal Pradesh

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Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?

At least 50 healthcare staff in India have been infected with the Covid-19 infection

07 Apr 2020

Covid 19Image Courtesy: hindustantimes.com

The Covid-19 crisis is a perilous time for healthcare workers. With shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, the danger of them catching the coronavirus infection is at an all-time high. Also, the rise in asymptomatic cases and the requirement of these healthcare workers to go into containment zones or vulnerable localities proves a big challenge to their health.

As cases rise, many instances of healthcare workers – nurses and doctors being infected, have emerged.

40 nurses from Kerala who work at the Wockhardt hospital in Mumbai, tested positive for the infection. It was alleged that they were forced to treat Covid-19 patients without enough protective gear and without taking any necessary precautions. One of the nurses who is critical, has now been shifted to a private hospital in Bandra. So far, a total of 53 healthcare workers working at the hospital, including doctors, have tested positive.

According to Jibin, a representative of the United Nurses Association (UNA) in Mumbai, a majority of the nurses at the hospital were from Kerala. He told the media, “When the first few COVID-19 cases were treated in the hospital, a few of the nurses attended to them without any precautions as they were not provided with any protective gear. Later, these nurses worked along with other staff, took the hospital van to go to their hostel and stayed in hostels with others. If they were allowed to stay in quarantine or were provided with personal protective equipment, the situation would not have been this worse.”

He also says that these nurses have only been informed of their condition and haven’t received their test results yet.

The Wockhardt Hospital has since then been locked down by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and except for one, the other nurses are being treated there itself. “They are undergoing treatment in the same hospital. Since this hospital has been locked down by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), nobody is allowed to meet the patients and nobody from the hospital is allowed to come out. The hospital stopped taking new patient admissions," he said.

The UNA has also approached the Supreme Court seeking to form a ‘National Covid-19 Management Protocol’ and petitioned that the Central government intervene and make sure that healthcare workers not only have adequate protection kits in isolation wards, but also provide financial assistance to them as they face the highest risk during this time.

Similar situation across the country

Apart from Wockhardt which was declared a containment zone, Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai too has been declared as one after five nurses tested positive for the coronavirus. They were said to have contracted the infection from an asymptomatic patient who was admitted to the hospital for a different illness, The Indian Express reported.

Hindustan Times reported that the Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI) too was shut after 18 of its healthcare workers, including two doctors and 16 nursing staff, tested positive for the coronavirus.

“As a precautionary measure, we have shut down various facilities of the hospital for conducting sanitisation. We are making arrangement to shift our 19 cancer patients to another private hospital. Talks are on with Dharmshila Superspecialty hospital,” Dr BL Sherwal, DSCI’s medical superintendent, said according to ANI.

These cancer patients are now being screened for Covid-19 before they can be shifted as they are extremely susceptible to infections. Talking about the infected healthcare workers he said, “Some of them are admitted at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital. We are very cautioned about the health of our doctors and nurses and all measure are being taken and their contact tracing has also started.”

In Pune, about 40 surgeons and resident doctors of a prominent medical college in Pimpri were quarantined after they came in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient.

Earlier, a doctor at a mohalla clinic in Delhi’s Maujpur had tested positive for the infection and a doctor from AIIMS, with no travel history, had tested positive too.

Plight of healthcare workers

Sabrang India has previously reported about the shortages of PPEs that doctors and other healthcare staff are facing in the country. Today, the Hindustan Times reported that AIIMS has its staff involved in direct patient care to use the five N-95 masks allotted to each of them four times so that they can be used over 20 days.

The hospital has issued a circular asking the healthcare workers to do the same, but has not issued detailed guidelines on how to disinfect the said masks. Dr Srinivas Rajkumar T, General Secretary of Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS, said, “We have been writing to the administration about the shortage of personal protective equipment and N-95 masks since March. Not only have we not received any concrete answers on how they are dealing with the shortage, they have now issued guidelines for using the masks four times. How is a doctor supposed to carry the infected mask home? How are they individually supposed to disinfect it? This should happen at the hospital level to curtail the spread of the infection and even then only when there is no other option available.”

He added, “The circular does not clarify whether the same will be applicable for people working in the Covid-19 wards and those screening the patients for respiratory symptoms – as they are at a higher risk of carrying the disease home with the masks. If we are at this stage even before the community transmission has begun, what will happen when there is a deluge of patients. This will take active doctors out of duty.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the ratio of doctors to be 1:1,000. Currently, there is one doctor for every 1,457 Indians. WSWS reported that India needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million pieces of PPE for medical staff to protect them while dealing with the virus.

Doctors have been seen wearing raincoats, helmets and plastic bags in hospitals due the shortage of these. The total health expenditure in India amounts to just 3.7 percent of the GDP, of which only around a quarter is government expenditure. According to Fitch Solutions, with 8.5 hospital beds and 8 physicians per 10,000 people, India’s healthcare industry is particularly at risk.

Just last week, there was an uproar after it came to light that India had exported medical protective gear to Serbia. The exports consisted of 35 lakh pairs of sterile latex surgical gloves and the list of other items exported was yet to be made public. The Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry was apparently unaware of this at first, however later sources said that no items from the ‘prohibited list’ were exported.

Now the European Pharmaceutical Review (EPR) has reported that with demands of key PPEs surging, the Indian government has now reached out to China to restore the supply of devices like ventilators and other vital components required for manufacturing.

It is imperative that the government take stock of the situation right at this moment. Though the government says it has all it needs to fight the coronavirus battle, doctors and nurses on the frontline, even now, have a different story to tell.

If  healthcare workers fall, the domino of destruction by the coronavirus will be extraordinarily difficult to contain and the sooner the government understands this scenario, the better it will be for the country to tide by the crisis.

Related:

Indian medics: Why should we risk our lives?
Covid-19 stigma: Medical professionals ostracized and evicted from rented homes
Doctors need more protective gear now, before COVID-19 cases explode
Covid-19: Ventilator, PPE shortages put India’s frontline healthcare staff at risk

 

Shortage of PPEs, asymptomatic patients putting healthcare staff at risk?

At least 50 healthcare staff in India have been infected with the Covid-19 infection

Covid 19Image Courtesy: hindustantimes.com

The Covid-19 crisis is a perilous time for healthcare workers. With shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, the danger of them catching the coronavirus infection is at an all-time high. Also, the rise in asymptomatic cases and the requirement of these healthcare workers to go into containment zones or vulnerable localities proves a big challenge to their health.

As cases rise, many instances of healthcare workers – nurses and doctors being infected, have emerged.

40 nurses from Kerala who work at the Wockhardt hospital in Mumbai, tested positive for the infection. It was alleged that they were forced to treat Covid-19 patients without enough protective gear and without taking any necessary precautions. One of the nurses who is critical, has now been shifted to a private hospital in Bandra. So far, a total of 53 healthcare workers working at the hospital, including doctors, have tested positive.

According to Jibin, a representative of the United Nurses Association (UNA) in Mumbai, a majority of the nurses at the hospital were from Kerala. He told the media, “When the first few COVID-19 cases were treated in the hospital, a few of the nurses attended to them without any precautions as they were not provided with any protective gear. Later, these nurses worked along with other staff, took the hospital van to go to their hostel and stayed in hostels with others. If they were allowed to stay in quarantine or were provided with personal protective equipment, the situation would not have been this worse.”

He also says that these nurses have only been informed of their condition and haven’t received their test results yet.

The Wockhardt Hospital has since then been locked down by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and except for one, the other nurses are being treated there itself. “They are undergoing treatment in the same hospital. Since this hospital has been locked down by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), nobody is allowed to meet the patients and nobody from the hospital is allowed to come out. The hospital stopped taking new patient admissions," he said.

The UNA has also approached the Supreme Court seeking to form a ‘National Covid-19 Management Protocol’ and petitioned that the Central government intervene and make sure that healthcare workers not only have adequate protection kits in isolation wards, but also provide financial assistance to them as they face the highest risk during this time.

Similar situation across the country

Apart from Wockhardt which was declared a containment zone, Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai too has been declared as one after five nurses tested positive for the coronavirus. They were said to have contracted the infection from an asymptomatic patient who was admitted to the hospital for a different illness, The Indian Express reported.

Hindustan Times reported that the Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI) too was shut after 18 of its healthcare workers, including two doctors and 16 nursing staff, tested positive for the coronavirus.

“As a precautionary measure, we have shut down various facilities of the hospital for conducting sanitisation. We are making arrangement to shift our 19 cancer patients to another private hospital. Talks are on with Dharmshila Superspecialty hospital,” Dr BL Sherwal, DSCI’s medical superintendent, said according to ANI.

These cancer patients are now being screened for Covid-19 before they can be shifted as they are extremely susceptible to infections. Talking about the infected healthcare workers he said, “Some of them are admitted at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital. We are very cautioned about the health of our doctors and nurses and all measure are being taken and their contact tracing has also started.”

In Pune, about 40 surgeons and resident doctors of a prominent medical college in Pimpri were quarantined after they came in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient.

Earlier, a doctor at a mohalla clinic in Delhi’s Maujpur had tested positive for the infection and a doctor from AIIMS, with no travel history, had tested positive too.

Plight of healthcare workers

Sabrang India has previously reported about the shortages of PPEs that doctors and other healthcare staff are facing in the country. Today, the Hindustan Times reported that AIIMS has its staff involved in direct patient care to use the five N-95 masks allotted to each of them four times so that they can be used over 20 days.

The hospital has issued a circular asking the healthcare workers to do the same, but has not issued detailed guidelines on how to disinfect the said masks. Dr Srinivas Rajkumar T, General Secretary of Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS, said, “We have been writing to the administration about the shortage of personal protective equipment and N-95 masks since March. Not only have we not received any concrete answers on how they are dealing with the shortage, they have now issued guidelines for using the masks four times. How is a doctor supposed to carry the infected mask home? How are they individually supposed to disinfect it? This should happen at the hospital level to curtail the spread of the infection and even then only when there is no other option available.”

He added, “The circular does not clarify whether the same will be applicable for people working in the Covid-19 wards and those screening the patients for respiratory symptoms – as they are at a higher risk of carrying the disease home with the masks. If we are at this stage even before the community transmission has begun, what will happen when there is a deluge of patients. This will take active doctors out of duty.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the ratio of doctors to be 1:1,000. Currently, there is one doctor for every 1,457 Indians. WSWS reported that India needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million pieces of PPE for medical staff to protect them while dealing with the virus.

Doctors have been seen wearing raincoats, helmets and plastic bags in hospitals due the shortage of these. The total health expenditure in India amounts to just 3.7 percent of the GDP, of which only around a quarter is government expenditure. According to Fitch Solutions, with 8.5 hospital beds and 8 physicians per 10,000 people, India’s healthcare industry is particularly at risk.

Just last week, there was an uproar after it came to light that India had exported medical protective gear to Serbia. The exports consisted of 35 lakh pairs of sterile latex surgical gloves and the list of other items exported was yet to be made public. The Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry was apparently unaware of this at first, however later sources said that no items from the ‘prohibited list’ were exported.

Now the European Pharmaceutical Review (EPR) has reported that with demands of key PPEs surging, the Indian government has now reached out to China to restore the supply of devices like ventilators and other vital components required for manufacturing.

It is imperative that the government take stock of the situation right at this moment. Though the government says it has all it needs to fight the coronavirus battle, doctors and nurses on the frontline, even now, have a different story to tell.

If  healthcare workers fall, the domino of destruction by the coronavirus will be extraordinarily difficult to contain and the sooner the government understands this scenario, the better it will be for the country to tide by the crisis.

Related:

Indian medics: Why should we risk our lives?
Covid-19 stigma: Medical professionals ostracized and evicted from rented homes
Doctors need more protective gear now, before COVID-19 cases explode
Covid-19: Ventilator, PPE shortages put India’s frontline healthcare staff at risk

 

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Sabrang

K’taka Kerala stalemate ends, passage of non-COVID emergency cases allowed

This agreement between the two states comes with conditions that need to be fulfilled in “emergency” cases, like getting doctor’s certificate saying patients is not COVID positive

07 Apr 2020

BorderImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The stalemate between Karnataka and Kerala over border closure dispute has finally come to an end. On the hearing held on April 3, the Supreme Court had directed the Union Health Secretary to mediate between Chief Secretaries of both states to bring them on the same page and reach an amicable settlement. Both states have now agreed to the scenario where Karnataka will open its borders for non-COVID19 emergency cases from Kerala. The apex court had asked both the states to not precipitate the matter any further given the health crisis in the country.

LiveLaw reported that Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court bench comprising of CJI SA Bobade and Justice L Nageswara Rao that the Union Home Secretary convened a meeting between the Chief Secretaries of Kerala and Karnataka. In this meeting Karnataka agreed to allow passage of patients from Kerala who are not COVID19 positive to avail medical services in Mangaluru. The Court then disposed of all the petitions in the matter after being informed by the SG that the dispute does not exist anymore.

In the meeting, it was decided that entry will be allowed subject to medical screening at the border checkpost. Permission will be given only to government ambulances, mainly carrying patients met with an accident, carrying a medical certificate from a doctor stating that the patient is not COVID19 positive. There is a further requirement that the doctor should also ascertain that there is non availability of treatment for the patient in Kasargod and Kunnur districts.

The previous attempt at mediation between both states orchestrated by the Kerala High Court with the Ministry of Home Affairs as a mediator had failed to get any results.

It all started when on March 21 Karnataka shut its borders with Kerala as 6 cases of COVID19 turned up in Kasargod which is a district in Kerala very close to the Karnataka border. Karnataka government is firm on its stand of protecting the interests of the people of its state while Kerala insists that this amounts to infringement of fundamental rights of people of its state. Whne the matter reached the Kerala High Court, a division bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Shaji P Chali, on April 1, directed the union government to remove the border blockade imposed by Karnataka to allow patients from Kerala to enter Karnataka for emergency health care.

The matter reached the Supreme Court when the Karnataka government went into appeal against the Kerala High Court judgment as well as when a writ petition was filed by Kerala MP, Rajmohan Unnithan seeking directions to the Karnataka government to open the border.

Related:

Non-profits extend helping hand to poor people during Covid-19 lockdown
Job losses mount, recession looms as India battles Covid-19
More males affected than females; people of 21-30 years of age suffer more from Covid-19: MEDD report

K’taka Kerala stalemate ends, passage of non-COVID emergency cases allowed

This agreement between the two states comes with conditions that need to be fulfilled in “emergency” cases, like getting doctor’s certificate saying patients is not COVID positive

BorderImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The stalemate between Karnataka and Kerala over border closure dispute has finally come to an end. On the hearing held on April 3, the Supreme Court had directed the Union Health Secretary to mediate between Chief Secretaries of both states to bring them on the same page and reach an amicable settlement. Both states have now agreed to the scenario where Karnataka will open its borders for non-COVID19 emergency cases from Kerala. The apex court had asked both the states to not precipitate the matter any further given the health crisis in the country.

LiveLaw reported that Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court bench comprising of CJI SA Bobade and Justice L Nageswara Rao that the Union Home Secretary convened a meeting between the Chief Secretaries of Kerala and Karnataka. In this meeting Karnataka agreed to allow passage of patients from Kerala who are not COVID19 positive to avail medical services in Mangaluru. The Court then disposed of all the petitions in the matter after being informed by the SG that the dispute does not exist anymore.

In the meeting, it was decided that entry will be allowed subject to medical screening at the border checkpost. Permission will be given only to government ambulances, mainly carrying patients met with an accident, carrying a medical certificate from a doctor stating that the patient is not COVID19 positive. There is a further requirement that the doctor should also ascertain that there is non availability of treatment for the patient in Kasargod and Kunnur districts.

The previous attempt at mediation between both states orchestrated by the Kerala High Court with the Ministry of Home Affairs as a mediator had failed to get any results.

It all started when on March 21 Karnataka shut its borders with Kerala as 6 cases of COVID19 turned up in Kasargod which is a district in Kerala very close to the Karnataka border. Karnataka government is firm on its stand of protecting the interests of the people of its state while Kerala insists that this amounts to infringement of fundamental rights of people of its state. Whne the matter reached the Kerala High Court, a division bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Shaji P Chali, on April 1, directed the union government to remove the border blockade imposed by Karnataka to allow patients from Kerala to enter Karnataka for emergency health care.

The matter reached the Supreme Court when the Karnataka government went into appeal against the Kerala High Court judgment as well as when a writ petition was filed by Kerala MP, Rajmohan Unnithan seeking directions to the Karnataka government to open the border.

Related:

Non-profits extend helping hand to poor people during Covid-19 lockdown
Job losses mount, recession looms as India battles Covid-19
More males affected than females; people of 21-30 years of age suffer more from Covid-19: MEDD report

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Job losses mount, recession looms as India battles Covid-19

Contractual staff and daily wagers most hit by the 21—day lockdown

07 Apr 2020

LockdownImage Courtesy:reuters.com

Defying government orders that asked employers to be humane to employees and not cut their salaries or remove them from their jobs during the 21-day lockdown imposed in the country to fight the Covid-19 battle, some IT and ITeS companies in Karnataka have allegedly begun effecting pay and job cuts, reported the Deccan Herald.

Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employee Union (KITU) General Secretary , Ullas C said that they had received complaints from at least 50 people employed in various companies across the state. The union has asked asked affected employees not to resign if asked to do so by the company management. “The union strongly condemns the illegal and inhuman act by their managements,” he said. “Most of these are mid-level and small companies, not multi-national companies. Most of the callers said that they have been communicated about a salary cut, but some complained about being sacked. We urge the companies to refrain from doing so,” he added. Ullas also said that most IT companies in Bengaluru are involved in either services or software development. He added, “We expect that those engaged in development to take a hit, while the companies in the services sector are expected to fare better during the economic crisis.”

The union said that though the lockdown was issued in national interest, the companies were acting against national interest by violating government orders during this time of crisis. Demanding that the State government take action, the union said, “KITU demands the urgent intervention of the government in this matter and strict action against the companies violating the advisory note and labour laws.”

It has been widely reported that various companies are resorting to these measures to weather the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. Economic Times spoke to online insurance firm Acko which has now laid off 500 employees in the customer service, operations, sales and marketing segments. Varun Dua, founder of Acko told ET that 45 people were “impacted”. He said, “These are unprecedented times and we have to be prepared for a situation where the world is not normal for a long time.” He also said that the leadership team had taken salary cuts between 50 to 70 percent to do what’s right in the interest of the majority. Some business lines have been impacted and we don’t see them recovering for a long time and we’ve been forced to rationalize in those areas and consolidate a few teams and roles,” he added.

ET also reported that cloud communication firm Exotel has capped salaries at Rs 40,000 for the next two months and will look at the situation after a month to take further measures.

Technical recession and job losses

A report by the financial services company Motilal Oswal said that economic activity was at a 7-month high in February, but with the lockdown, it may have declined 15 – 20 percent year-on-year in March 2020. The firm’s Economic Activity Index (EAI) for India’s real Gross value added (GVA), called EAI-GVA suggests that economic growth picked up from 5.2% YoY in January 2020 to 6.5% YoY in February 2020 – the highest in the past seven months.

The domino effect caused by the coronavirus lockdown is shown in the report which reckons that only 30 – 40 percent of the economy is currently operational and that India’s real GDP growth could decline 2 – 3 percent in the fourth quarter of FY20 and another 10 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of FY21.

The report says that a single day of lockdown could shave off as much as 14 – 19 basis points from annual growth. This implies that with seven days of complete lockdown and eight days of partial lockdown, the real GDP could decline 3 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of FY 2020 as against the initial estimate of 4.7 percent.

“This will be the first- ever quarter of de-growth since the quarterly data became available since late- 1990s, and with two consecutive quarters of GDP decline, the Indian economy could see its first technical recession since 1990s,” the report said.

This lower productivity growth would be largely driven by ‘casual workers,’ who receive wages as per the daily terms or periodic work contracts, according to the report. However, it said, If the economy, remains affected for a longer period, the ‘self-employed’ people (52 percent of all employment), who operate their own enterprises, and the ‘regular wage / salaried workers’ (23 percent), would also be seriously affected.

The Goldman Sachs group too has said that India’s economy will likely contract in the first two quarters of 2020, reported ET. The virus pandemic has brought “an unprecedented sudden stop” to activity in India, where consumption makes up 60 per cent of the economy, the economists said.

Speaking to ET, Principal Economist at ICRA, Aditi Nayar said that due to the 21-day lockdown, there has been a production shutdown in many sectors and there has been a growing fear of job losses, especially of contractual staff and a substantial loss of income for daily wagers which will be difficult to make up for even after the lockdown is over.

The National Herald reported that 1.5 lakh employees in India’s IT industry might lose their jobs over the next three-to-six months. The industry employs about 45-50 lakh, of which and smaller firms account for about 10-12 lakh.

ITeS BPO firm Fareportal which caters to the travel industry and has laid off more than 300 employees and issued pay cuts to top bosses, says that business in the wake of the lockdown went down by 85 percent and that most of all the unclear situation about the development and tackling of the coronavirus is leading to these decisions.

Experts say it will take longer for recruitment to resume and no clarity on how long it will take for companies to recover.

Hope in sight

Though talks of a global recession are making the rounds, experts say that India may be better placed at bucking the trend. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that it expects a recovery in 2021 provided that countries succeed in containing the coronavirus and preventing bankruptcies and layoffs.

India’s investment system has been abuzz with fundraising. Startup companies have raised more than 700 million in capital. The Indian Express reported that Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal invested nearly Rs. 3,000 crore in his financial services firm – Navi Technologies. Reliance Industries Limited acquired a Rs. 100 crore stake in education platform Embibe. Online food platforms Swiggy and Zomato too received fresh funding, with Swiggy raising $43 million and Zomato receiving $5 million. Beauty and personal care retailer, Nykaa, too saw a fund infusion of $13 million.

The pandemic has turned investors to start-ups working in the med-tech, ed-tech and fintech space. Bengaluru-based bio-tech start-up Med Genome raised $55 million (Rs 419 crore) from global investor LeapFrog in the latest round, which the company says it will utilise in consolidating research on drug disxovery as well as clinical genome testing across tier-1 and -2 cities.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) too has said India is one of the two countries, after China, to be least exposed to the recession.

Related:

Non-profits extend helping hand to poor people during Covid-19 lockdown
Essential commodity and fuel prices fluctuate amid Covid-19 lockdown
30 per cent pay-cut for all Members of Parliament for a year

Job losses mount, recession looms as India battles Covid-19

Contractual staff and daily wagers most hit by the 21—day lockdown

LockdownImage Courtesy:reuters.com

Defying government orders that asked employers to be humane to employees and not cut their salaries or remove them from their jobs during the 21-day lockdown imposed in the country to fight the Covid-19 battle, some IT and ITeS companies in Karnataka have allegedly begun effecting pay and job cuts, reported the Deccan Herald.

Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employee Union (KITU) General Secretary , Ullas C said that they had received complaints from at least 50 people employed in various companies across the state. The union has asked asked affected employees not to resign if asked to do so by the company management. “The union strongly condemns the illegal and inhuman act by their managements,” he said. “Most of these are mid-level and small companies, not multi-national companies. Most of the callers said that they have been communicated about a salary cut, but some complained about being sacked. We urge the companies to refrain from doing so,” he added. Ullas also said that most IT companies in Bengaluru are involved in either services or software development. He added, “We expect that those engaged in development to take a hit, while the companies in the services sector are expected to fare better during the economic crisis.”

The union said that though the lockdown was issued in national interest, the companies were acting against national interest by violating government orders during this time of crisis. Demanding that the State government take action, the union said, “KITU demands the urgent intervention of the government in this matter and strict action against the companies violating the advisory note and labour laws.”

It has been widely reported that various companies are resorting to these measures to weather the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. Economic Times spoke to online insurance firm Acko which has now laid off 500 employees in the customer service, operations, sales and marketing segments. Varun Dua, founder of Acko told ET that 45 people were “impacted”. He said, “These are unprecedented times and we have to be prepared for a situation where the world is not normal for a long time.” He also said that the leadership team had taken salary cuts between 50 to 70 percent to do what’s right in the interest of the majority. Some business lines have been impacted and we don’t see them recovering for a long time and we’ve been forced to rationalize in those areas and consolidate a few teams and roles,” he added.

ET also reported that cloud communication firm Exotel has capped salaries at Rs 40,000 for the next two months and will look at the situation after a month to take further measures.

Technical recession and job losses

A report by the financial services company Motilal Oswal said that economic activity was at a 7-month high in February, but with the lockdown, it may have declined 15 – 20 percent year-on-year in March 2020. The firm’s Economic Activity Index (EAI) for India’s real Gross value added (GVA), called EAI-GVA suggests that economic growth picked up from 5.2% YoY in January 2020 to 6.5% YoY in February 2020 – the highest in the past seven months.

The domino effect caused by the coronavirus lockdown is shown in the report which reckons that only 30 – 40 percent of the economy is currently operational and that India’s real GDP growth could decline 2 – 3 percent in the fourth quarter of FY20 and another 10 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of FY21.

The report says that a single day of lockdown could shave off as much as 14 – 19 basis points from annual growth. This implies that with seven days of complete lockdown and eight days of partial lockdown, the real GDP could decline 3 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of FY 2020 as against the initial estimate of 4.7 percent.

“This will be the first- ever quarter of de-growth since the quarterly data became available since late- 1990s, and with two consecutive quarters of GDP decline, the Indian economy could see its first technical recession since 1990s,” the report said.

This lower productivity growth would be largely driven by ‘casual workers,’ who receive wages as per the daily terms or periodic work contracts, according to the report. However, it said, If the economy, remains affected for a longer period, the ‘self-employed’ people (52 percent of all employment), who operate their own enterprises, and the ‘regular wage / salaried workers’ (23 percent), would also be seriously affected.

The Goldman Sachs group too has said that India’s economy will likely contract in the first two quarters of 2020, reported ET. The virus pandemic has brought “an unprecedented sudden stop” to activity in India, where consumption makes up 60 per cent of the economy, the economists said.

Speaking to ET, Principal Economist at ICRA, Aditi Nayar said that due to the 21-day lockdown, there has been a production shutdown in many sectors and there has been a growing fear of job losses, especially of contractual staff and a substantial loss of income for daily wagers which will be difficult to make up for even after the lockdown is over.

The National Herald reported that 1.5 lakh employees in India’s IT industry might lose their jobs over the next three-to-six months. The industry employs about 45-50 lakh, of which and smaller firms account for about 10-12 lakh.

ITeS BPO firm Fareportal which caters to the travel industry and has laid off more than 300 employees and issued pay cuts to top bosses, says that business in the wake of the lockdown went down by 85 percent and that most of all the unclear situation about the development and tackling of the coronavirus is leading to these decisions.

Experts say it will take longer for recruitment to resume and no clarity on how long it will take for companies to recover.

Hope in sight

Though talks of a global recession are making the rounds, experts say that India may be better placed at bucking the trend. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that it expects a recovery in 2021 provided that countries succeed in containing the coronavirus and preventing bankruptcies and layoffs.

India’s investment system has been abuzz with fundraising. Startup companies have raised more than 700 million in capital. The Indian Express reported that Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal invested nearly Rs. 3,000 crore in his financial services firm – Navi Technologies. Reliance Industries Limited acquired a Rs. 100 crore stake in education platform Embibe. Online food platforms Swiggy and Zomato too received fresh funding, with Swiggy raising $43 million and Zomato receiving $5 million. Beauty and personal care retailer, Nykaa, too saw a fund infusion of $13 million.

The pandemic has turned investors to start-ups working in the med-tech, ed-tech and fintech space. Bengaluru-based bio-tech start-up Med Genome raised $55 million (Rs 419 crore) from global investor LeapFrog in the latest round, which the company says it will utilise in consolidating research on drug disxovery as well as clinical genome testing across tier-1 and -2 cities.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) too has said India is one of the two countries, after China, to be least exposed to the recession.

Related:

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Non-profits extend helping hand to poor people during Covid-19 lockdown

With the imposition of the 21-day lockdown to prevent the deadly Coronavirus from spreading, rural masses, migrant labourers and daily wage earners are facing huge problems in accessing food.

07 Apr 2020

Coronavirus

To tide over the Coronavirus crisis, some non-profits are doing their best to ensure that basic supplies like rice and pulses reach even the interior areas, where even during normal times, people remain cut off due to harsh terrain and long distances.

In the backward Gumla district of Jharkhand, non-profit Pradan is conducting sensitisation drives and awareness campaigns to help the poor. According to Pradan team coordinator in Gumla, Debanjan Ghatak, awareness drive is on in the entire district. “We have identified two major issues. One is keeping track on people living in the villages and another is identifying labourers, who are coming from outside as a result of reverse migration. We have also created isolation centres in the panchayats to contain the spread of Covid-19,” Ghatak said over phone.

In these difficult times, daily wage labourers and their families have been hit the most. For field workers belonging to different non-profits, restrictions placed on their movements and budget constraints to buy food and other essential items are also becoming an issue. However, a few donors have come forward like the Bank of America, Ghatak added.

“We are also accepting individual donations. A sahayog samiti Gumla has been created and till now Rs 1,65,000 has been collected. It is a good sign that people are positively responding. We are taking the help of volunteers in the respective villages to distribute ration kits to the poor. We are asking only two volunteers at a time, as movement is restricted. In this way, we have covered 216 people in the first phase. The kits are especially targeted at single women, widows and daily wage labourers. The kits will cover 750 households,” Ghatak added. The kits comprise 15 kg rice, 1 kg dal, mustard oil, salt, turmeric powder and soap.

According to another project executive of Pradan, Md Meraj Uddin, in Basia block of Gumla, banners related to dos and dont’s of Coronavirus were put up in anganwadi kendras and market places so that the maximum number of people could read them.

A group has also been formed comprising local journalists, mukhiyas (village heads), block administration officials and Pradan workers. “It is important to observe symptoms in the labourers who are coming back as a result of reverse migration. We are also tracking those, who do not own ration cards and ensuring that they also get 10kg of foodgrains at the rate of Rs1. Monitoring is also on to track whether all families holding ration cards have been covered. Under the Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat Yojana in Jharkhand, free of cost food is being given to nomads and migrant workers,” Meraj Uddin added.

Relief

Relief

Similar efforts are on in about 40 villages in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh where the Vikas Samvad Samiti (VSS) is working relentlessly. According to Rakesh Malviya of VSS, the non-profit is focusing on need-based things.

“As wheat harvest is on, community awareness is vital now to save people from Covid-19. People have been advised in the villages to keep a close watch and maintain sanitation. Community kitchens are also open to feed the poor,” Malviya said.

In Madhya Pradesh, each panchayat has been given Rs 30,000 for maintaining sanitation and cleanliness. Rewa district collector and district magistrate Basant Kurre said over phone that food shortage will not arise in the villages. According to him, mid-day meal groups have been told to cook food in this crisis situation for the poor.

VSS activist Pushpendra Singh said that in Rewa sensitisation against Covid-19 was going on in the villages even before the lockdown. Now, youth groups are active in all the villages and they are monitoring the situation, Singh added. “People have been told to wear masks if possible, maintain distance and practise hygiene. Even though panchayats have been given Rs30,000 to fight Covid-19, it is vital to make people aware.”

Social worker Ramnaresh Yadav of Rewa said some of the activists visited interior villages on motorcycles for monitoring the situation. Yadav explained that in the forest villages, people are having food crisis. Though they have got ration till May, the problem is that they cannot go to the nearest chakkis (mills) to make atta (flour). Markets are also 15-20 km away and it has become impossible for them to buy food.

“We have raised these problems in front of the authorities concerned. Corona is a pandemic, but we feel that people may die of hunger due to the lockdown. Elderly people, widows and single women are facing problems. We have told the panchayat sachiv (secretary) to ensure that people get food. We have asked our youth groups to ensure food supply. We had no idea that it will spread so fast and people will face issues. We are trying to gather donation. Fear is that the lockdown may get stretched,” he added.

In Pohari block of Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh dominated by the extremely poor Sahariya tribals, Cry is supporting VSS to purchase and distribute masks and sanitisers in the villages. According to Arti Parasahar of VSS, masks will be distributed through anganwadi workers. We are waiting for the products and soaps to arrive, she said.

Ajay Singh Yadav, a field activist with VSS in Shivpuri, said as we cannot go to the villages, we are calling up our volunteers in different villages to apprise ourselves of the situation. “Migrant workers are the biggest problem. They are calling us frantically. Some are stuck in Jaipur, others in Patna and Agra.” 

Non-profits extend helping hand to poor people during Covid-19 lockdown

With the imposition of the 21-day lockdown to prevent the deadly Coronavirus from spreading, rural masses, migrant labourers and daily wage earners are facing huge problems in accessing food.

Coronavirus

To tide over the Coronavirus crisis, some non-profits are doing their best to ensure that basic supplies like rice and pulses reach even the interior areas, where even during normal times, people remain cut off due to harsh terrain and long distances.

In the backward Gumla district of Jharkhand, non-profit Pradan is conducting sensitisation drives and awareness campaigns to help the poor. According to Pradan team coordinator in Gumla, Debanjan Ghatak, awareness drive is on in the entire district. “We have identified two major issues. One is keeping track on people living in the villages and another is identifying labourers, who are coming from outside as a result of reverse migration. We have also created isolation centres in the panchayats to contain the spread of Covid-19,” Ghatak said over phone.

In these difficult times, daily wage labourers and their families have been hit the most. For field workers belonging to different non-profits, restrictions placed on their movements and budget constraints to buy food and other essential items are also becoming an issue. However, a few donors have come forward like the Bank of America, Ghatak added.

“We are also accepting individual donations. A sahayog samiti Gumla has been created and till now Rs 1,65,000 has been collected. It is a good sign that people are positively responding. We are taking the help of volunteers in the respective villages to distribute ration kits to the poor. We are asking only two volunteers at a time, as movement is restricted. In this way, we have covered 216 people in the first phase. The kits are especially targeted at single women, widows and daily wage labourers. The kits will cover 750 households,” Ghatak added. The kits comprise 15 kg rice, 1 kg dal, mustard oil, salt, turmeric powder and soap.

According to another project executive of Pradan, Md Meraj Uddin, in Basia block of Gumla, banners related to dos and dont’s of Coronavirus were put up in anganwadi kendras and market places so that the maximum number of people could read them.

A group has also been formed comprising local journalists, mukhiyas (village heads), block administration officials and Pradan workers. “It is important to observe symptoms in the labourers who are coming back as a result of reverse migration. We are also tracking those, who do not own ration cards and ensuring that they also get 10kg of foodgrains at the rate of Rs1. Monitoring is also on to track whether all families holding ration cards have been covered. Under the Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat Yojana in Jharkhand, free of cost food is being given to nomads and migrant workers,” Meraj Uddin added.

Relief

Relief

Similar efforts are on in about 40 villages in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh where the Vikas Samvad Samiti (VSS) is working relentlessly. According to Rakesh Malviya of VSS, the non-profit is focusing on need-based things.

“As wheat harvest is on, community awareness is vital now to save people from Covid-19. People have been advised in the villages to keep a close watch and maintain sanitation. Community kitchens are also open to feed the poor,” Malviya said.

In Madhya Pradesh, each panchayat has been given Rs 30,000 for maintaining sanitation and cleanliness. Rewa district collector and district magistrate Basant Kurre said over phone that food shortage will not arise in the villages. According to him, mid-day meal groups have been told to cook food in this crisis situation for the poor.

VSS activist Pushpendra Singh said that in Rewa sensitisation against Covid-19 was going on in the villages even before the lockdown. Now, youth groups are active in all the villages and they are monitoring the situation, Singh added. “People have been told to wear masks if possible, maintain distance and practise hygiene. Even though panchayats have been given Rs30,000 to fight Covid-19, it is vital to make people aware.”

Social worker Ramnaresh Yadav of Rewa said some of the activists visited interior villages on motorcycles for monitoring the situation. Yadav explained that in the forest villages, people are having food crisis. Though they have got ration till May, the problem is that they cannot go to the nearest chakkis (mills) to make atta (flour). Markets are also 15-20 km away and it has become impossible for them to buy food.

“We have raised these problems in front of the authorities concerned. Corona is a pandemic, but we feel that people may die of hunger due to the lockdown. Elderly people, widows and single women are facing problems. We have told the panchayat sachiv (secretary) to ensure that people get food. We have asked our youth groups to ensure food supply. We had no idea that it will spread so fast and people will face issues. We are trying to gather donation. Fear is that the lockdown may get stretched,” he added.

In Pohari block of Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh dominated by the extremely poor Sahariya tribals, Cry is supporting VSS to purchase and distribute masks and sanitisers in the villages. According to Arti Parasahar of VSS, masks will be distributed through anganwadi workers. We are waiting for the products and soaps to arrive, she said.

Ajay Singh Yadav, a field activist with VSS in Shivpuri, said as we cannot go to the villages, we are calling up our volunteers in different villages to apprise ourselves of the situation. “Migrant workers are the biggest problem. They are calling us frantically. Some are stuck in Jaipur, others in Patna and Agra.” 

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