The police have booked the management of a Meerut cancer hospital after it put out an advertisement saying it would treat Muslims only after they produce a report showing that they have tested negative for coronavirus.
The newspaper advertisement released by the Valentis Cancer Hospital on Friday, 17 April, also said that most Hindus and Jains are misers, and asked them to contribute to the Prime Minister’s fund to help fight the coronavirus crisis.
“Several Muslim patients are not following the guidelines (like using a mask, maintaining hygiene) and they are also misbehaving with hospital staff. For the security of hospital’s staff and patients, the hospital administration requests all new Muslim patients that they and one designated caretaker get tested for COVID-19 and visit the hospital only if their reports are negative,” the ad in a Hindi daily read.
Facing flak on social media, the hospital came up with another advertisement on Sunday, 19 April, carrying an apology, although this was with regard to the statement about Hindus and Jains being ‘misers’. “It has come to our notice that some people of the Hindu and Jain faith have been hurt due to our notice yesterday. A wrong message has gone and we regret it and ask for forgiveness,” the clarification read.
The original advertisement blamed the Tablighi Jamaat – whose congregation in Delhi last month was seen as a coronavirus hotspot – for spreading the disease in the country and then set conditions for admitting Muslim patients.
However, as demonstrated in a report by The Wire, this is neither accurate for the whole country, nor even for Meerut. The data released by the directorate of health services Lucknow on 18 April showed that among the 70 people from Meerut who have tested positive for the coronavirus, 46 are connected to the gathering, not the rest.
Police have registered a case against hospital manager Dr Amit Jain, Incholi SHO Brijesh Kumar Singh said on Sunday.
Asked to comment on the controversial advertisement, Meerut’s Chief Medical Officer Raj Kumar said, “This is certainly wrong and we are sending a notice to the administration of the concerned hospital”, adding that further action will be taken after a reply is received from them.
Now, according to a report by ANI, the hospital has released a statement saying that they did not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments. “The ad was an appeal to to follow government guidelines so that everyone stays safe. It has nothing to do with religion. We apologise if some of our words have hurt people’s sentiments. The hospital never intended to insult anyone”, said Dr Amit Jain.
In the second advertisement issued on Sunday, the hospital said it wanted people of all religions to fight the emergency together.
“We never had the intention to hurt anyone's feelings. If anyone from the Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh or Christian community has been hurt, we extend our heartfelt regrets”.
(Inputs: PTI, ANI and The Wire)