With over 2,38,000 COVID-19 patients already dead (official estimate), India presents a horrible picture. About 4000 people are dying every day. Experts are skeptical of the government’s figures of cumulative and daily deaths. They point out that most COVID-19 deaths remain unreported and unrecorded.
Murad Banaji, a senior lecturer in mathematics at Middlesex University agrees, “80% of India’s COVID-19 deaths are missing and have not been picked up by official death count.”
He made the remarks during the course of his interview with renowned journalist Karan Thapar (The Wire magazine). Mr. Banaji has closely tracked ebbs and flows in the COVID-19 wave in India during the period March 2020 to May 2021.
Experts agree that the actual Covid death toll in India is higher than what is reported by the government. But, there is a divergence of perceptions. Some people say that the actual toll is three times the announced figure. Others, including Banaji, think the toll is five times the official figure, 11, 90, 000, well above a million.
Washington-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation had predicted a death toll of 1,018879 deaths by the end-July 2021 and 1.4 million deaths by the end of September 2021. Thus, India is all set to surpass the USA by 500,000.
A horrible picture
Not only the public hospitals but also private hospitals bluntly refuse to admit patients for want of bed or oxygen or medicines. The paramedical staff gets beds allotted to asymptomatic patients to convey the impression that there is no vacant bed.
They also steal medicines and sell them in the open market.
Frustrated families try to resuscitate their patients by exhaling them into their mouths. Some take them to cowshed “hospitals” (gaushalas) to be treated with a mixture of cow urine, dung, and milk.
It is a heyday for black marketers. Delhi police seized 419 oxygen concentrators from Nega Ju restaurant in New Delhi. Additional 105 oxygen concentrators were seized from Khan Chacha and Town Hall restaurants in Khan Market in New Delhi.
No let-up in anti-Muslim persecution
Amid mounting deaths, Muslim persecution remains unabated. Cow vigilantes break into Muslims’ houses, drag them to police stations, and register FIRs against them. Rajasthan state assembly is contemplating raising the penalty for cow slaughter to life imprisonment.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Haryana government what power or authority cow vigilantes have to raid people’s homes, and said that such actions are “prima facie illegal”.
The bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal was hearing the bail plea of Mubbi, alias Mubin, a resident of Nuh, Haryana, who faces charges of alleged cow slaughter and sale of beef.
Issuing notice to the State for May 19, Justice Mittal said, “Additional Advocate General, Haryana, is directed to address the Court on power/authority of vigilantes to raid houses of citizens. Such actions are prima facie illegal and amount to taking the law into their hands by private individuals. This is contrary to the Rule of Law.”
As per the FIR, the district president of Gau Raksha Dal led a team to raid Mubbi’s house earlier this year and found a bull, a cow, and a calf. While Mubbi fled, the vigilantes said that they found instruments of cattle slaughter in the house.
They informed local police, and an FIR was registered on March 11 at Bichhor police station of Nuh under Sections 3, 8(1) of Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, and IPC Section 511.
The courts have released several “offenders” on the plea that they have been hauled up on flimsy grounds. In most cases, the vigilantes and the police did not even bother to get it examined whether the meat in their possession was beef or not.
The courts sarcastically reminded the vigilantes that non-milch cows roam about on streets and roads. They should take care of them also. When a cow dies on road, it is a Muslim or a dalit who disposes of it.
There have been several episodes in India’s history when the prime ministers (Nehru, Nrisimha Rao, et al) sacked their key ministers or changed their teams in the face of military or economic debacles.
Modi on the other hand is not willing to shun his strong-man image. The whole world has rushed supplies to India. But, the bottlenecks like customs clearance have stalled their delivery to crying hospitals.
India Today pictured India as a `Failed State’ on its cover page. But, some analysts call it a “flailed state”.
Modi lied about the adequacy of vaccines, testing, and treatment facilities. Neighboring countries can learn from India’s experience.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing freelance for over fifty years. His articles stand published in dailies at home (The News, Nation, etc)and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes, and other Issues in Focus. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.