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Baba Ramdev, Oxygen Shortage Is Killing Thousands, Don’t Mock Them

Till we see our 2.6 lakh dead as lives that could have been saved, we will not be able to save the next Rahul Vohra.

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4 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Camera: Athar Rather

“This (oxygen mask) is very important for a dying patient. Without this, a patient is desperate. But… there's no oxygen flowing through it."

These were actor Rahul Vohra’s last words in a hospital, just before he died… Kya kehte aap Rahul Vohra ko Baba Ramdev? What would you tell Rahul, who could barely breathe in that ICU – chalo Rahul, use your own oxygen cylinders? Kya kehte aap Rahul Vohra se? Kya aap use daant-te, ke woh marte marte negativity kyon faila raha tha?

"I am making this video with a lot of difficulties. Please don’t take Corona lightly. I really can't speak, but I want to convey my message to all."

This is what Dr Dimple Arora said in a video recorded days before she passed away due to COVID. Kya Dr Dimple Arora ka bhi mazaak udaate Ramdev ji? She was seven-month pregnant when COVID killed her. Was Dr Dimple also spreading negativity in the video recorded just days before she died?

This is what Baba Ramdev was recently heard saying, mocking those gasping for oxygen, due to COVID:

"God has given us free oxygen; why don't we breathe that? God has filled the atmosphere with oxygen; how is there a shortage? Fools are looking for oxygen cylinders. Just breathe the free oxygen. Be courageous. Instead, people are dying, complaining of shortage of beds, oxygen, medicines, crematoriums – spreading only negativity.

Baba Ramdev, Thousands Are Dying Due to Oxygen Shortage; Yet You Mock Them...

Ramdev ji, Dr Dimple jaisi hazaron mautein ek bhayanak asliyat hai – mazaak ka vishay nahi. The Oxygen shortage that killed Rahul was real. Oxygen ke liye tadap tadap ke mare Rahul. And this was what he said on his death-bed:

"No oxygen is coming through. I called the attendant, explained the problem. But nobody is listening. The attendants don't come when you call them, or they come after over an hour. Till then, you got to manage somehow."

Baba Ramdev… jis Gangaji ko aap, hum, poora desh pavitra maanta hai, uss Gangaji ki tasveerein dekhi hai aapne? Over 100 dead bodies were found floating in the Ganga at Buxar and Ghazipur; 25 more corpses were found in the Yamuna at Hamirpur.

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Is this a common sight? Kya aise drishya aam hain, rozana dikhte hain Ramdevji?! Kya majboori rahi hogi un parivaron ki jinhone apne priyajano ke shav, Gangaji mein bina antim sanskaar ke baha diye? Each of the floating nameless bodies tells a story – of a hospital bed that was unavailable, or an ambulance, or an oxygen cylinder, or a critical medicine that could not be found in time, or of crematoriums unable to handle the sheer number of corpses.

But, Baba Ramdev prefers to mock them. He mocks those desperately searching for one oxygen cylinder. He mocks those who question the government’s poor planning and inaction, because of which 4,000 fellow Indians are dying every day.

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Baba Ramdev is Not Alone in Deflecting From the COVID Emergency

But Baba Ramdev is not alone in trying to play down, or put a spin and deflect from the unfolding tragedy. On 11 May, an article titled 'PM MODI HAS BEEN WORKING HARD; DON’T GET TRAPPED IN OPPOSITION’S BARBS' was published by 'The Daily Guardian', a website that sounded so much like the top UK newspaper, The Guardian. It seemed the PM, who has been getting a lot of bad press abroad, was finally earning foreign media praise. Many BJP Ministers – Anurag Thakur, Jitendra Singh, Kiren Rijiju, G Kishan Reddy and others retweeted the article.

But within hours, it emerged that the article was written by one Sudesh Verma, who is part of the BJP's national media team. And ‘The Daily Guardian’ is not foreign, but an Indian website owned by the son of a Haryana politician. It was a clumsy, cynical attempt at glossing over the government’s failures and pretending that ‘sab changa si’!

But is that what we need today? Do we need image management while thousands are dying? Or do we need a sarkaar that comes out of denial and faces the facts?

Even a government supporter, like Anupam Kher, is saying today –

“Somewhere the govt has slipped. It is time for them to do more than just image-building. We should, as people, be angry.”

But is the government listening? We don’t know.

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Ramdev Or Sarkar... Compassion, Sensitivity, Empathy are Also Dying...

The fact is that be it Baba Ramdev, or our Government, there is something missing – compassion, sensitivity and empathy for what so many fellow citizens are going through.

Look at the case of Natasha Narwal, who has been in Tihar Jail for a year. She was charged under the UAPA, accused of inciting violence in north-east Delhi in February 2020. While Natasha’s father Mahavir battled COVID, her bail plea went unheard. She got bail only after he died on 9 May. Instead of meeting her father one last time, all she saw was his body in a bag. Only a system that doesn’t care would do this.

And the only reason Natasha has been denied bail so far is the draconian provisions of the UAPA, not because of the ‘evidence’ against her. In fact, for the same charge under another FIR, she was granted bail in September 2020, with the judge trashing the evidence against her – saying the video produced by the police “doesn’t show anything to suggest that she indulged in or incited violence”. But because of UAPA, Natasha has had to remain jailed for months after that, not being allowed to even meet her dying father.
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Yeh Jo India Hai Na… here, it is this kind of lack of feelings, that is harming even the fight against COVID. With people like Baba Ramdev laughing at fellow Indians as they gasp for oxygen on their deathbeds. Until we see each of our 2.6 lakh dead as a life that could have been saved, we shall not be able to save the next Rahul Vohra.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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