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No discussing Bhilwara model with media, IAS officer Rajendra Bhatt in letter to officials

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Health workers in Bhilwara | Photo - Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Health workers in Bhilwara | Photo – Manisha Mondal | ThePrint


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New Delhi: Days after the ‘Bhilwara model‘ in Rajasthan was credited for its success in curbing the spread of coronavirus, Rajendra Bhatt, its collector/district magistrate, has warned government officials against divulging details of the now-famous strategy to the media.

Bhatt is in charge of implementing the plan and has been credited with its conceptualisation.

In a letter dated 11 April 2020, the 56-year-old IAS officer has thanked government officials, police officers, health workers and the district administration for their contribution in making successful the lockdown as well as the district’s strategy in curbing coronavirus.

But he also stated that they must not speak to the media about the Bhilwara model in order to avoid confusion or contradiction. If they do not observe the order, severe action will be taken against them under the Rajasthan Epidemic Act, 1957 and the Disaster Management Act 2005, he warned.


Also read: How India’s young IAS officers ensured a smooth lockdown in every corner of the country


‘A role model’

Mainstream media has been instrumental in creating a buzz around the strategy that has been deployed in this Rajasthan textile-district. Bhilwara had emerged as one of the hotspots of the Covid-19 outbreak last month after it registered 27 positive cases and two deaths.

But after Bhatt’s strategy was applied in the district, which includes isolation, mapping hotspots, door-to-door screening, aggressive contact-tracing and ramping up of quarantine and isolation wards, there were no new Covid-19 cases for at least 10 days.

This led to discussions on how the district had transformed into becoming a “role model“, talks about decoding its strategy and the roles of Bhatt and IAS officer Tina Dabi who has also been pro-active in stemming the outbreak in Bhilwara.

Many other state administrators also expressed their inclination to emulate the strategy of aggressive door-to-door screening and “ruthless containment” in the district.

Bhatt had previously admitted to the model’s success in curbing the spread of Covid-19. Speaking to ThePrint earlier, he had said that the model’s success was no “rocket science” as full cooperation was received from the state government in sealing the district’s borders.

He also said that it would be clear only by 1 May if the virus has been completely eliminated, adding that he wanted the district to go through three cycles of isolation, testing and quarantining before victory against coronavirus was declared.


Also read: Covid lockdown shows Indian police isn’t all brutal. Some officers can sing for us, feed poor


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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