Why So Callous? Asks Twitter to Cricket-Obsessed Bihar Health Min

As encephalitis death toll in Bihar crossed 100, Mangal Pandey was heard at a meeting asking for the cricket score.

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Why So Callous? Asks Twitter to Cricket-Obsessed Bihar Health Min

As encephalitis death toll in Bihar crossed the three-digit mark, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey was heard at a meeting asking for the score of the India versus Pakistan World Cup cricket match on Sunday, 16 June.

“Bihar’s Health Minister Mangal Pandey seems more worried about cricket score than the death of children due to encephalitis,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted and tagged the video.

Six children died on Monday in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, taking the toll due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) to 103.

While doctors have maintained that the deaths occurred due to AES, state officials claimed that most of the victims, below the age of 10, have fallen prey to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by low level of blood sugar, and electrolyte imbalance due to high temperature and extreme humidity.

Insensitive And Silent?

Twitterati were enraged not just over Mangal Pandey’s insensitive act, but also at the passive reaction of ministers to the mounting death toll in the state.

They issued reminders on Twitter. “Bihar is in India. Indian kids are dying,” said one Twitter user.

MoS Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey was seen ‘sleeping’ during a press conference held by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan over the issue. Though he later denied the allegation and said he was doing some “deep thinking”, Twitterati refused to believe it.

One Twitter user said Choubey was sleeping, Pandey was asking for match score while Amit Shah was tweeting about India’s ‘strike’ on Pakistan in the World Cup while children are dying. “That’s the value of life of children in India,” he tweeted.

Activist Kavita Krishnan said the government has failed to anticipate or prevent the epidemic. She described the government as ‘callous and criminal’.

BJP ministers tweeted on India’s victory against Pakistan but none of them tweeted anything on the death of children in Bihar – Twitter user IRONY MAN pointed out the irony.

Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat said PM Modi tweeted another Yoga Day video, but is “yet to tweet about Bihar encephalitis deaths. Unfortunate.”

Nitish Waited Too Long

Anger was also directed at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. As Ntish Kumar visited the SKMCH hospital in Muzaffarpur on Tuesday 18 June, locals protested outside the hospital, angry at the CM for waiting till the death toll crossed the three digit mark and not issuing any statement.

Many Twitter users echoed the feeling.

Kerala Model

Then there were comparisons to Kerala, how the state was successful in combating the Nipah outbreak.

Misplaced Priorities

Twitter also accused the media for being biased towards a ‘BJP state’ and not questioning the government. Twitter users said the media was more interested in crucifying Mamata and debating Sania Mirza’s patriotism.

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