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Who is Vinay Dubey? The self-styled migrant mascot arrested for Bandra ruckus




Vinay Dubey was arrested Wednesday | ThePrint
Vinay Dubey was arrested Wednesday | ThePrint

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Mumbai: A self-styled representative of north Indians in Mumbai was arrested in the small hours of Wednesday for allegedly playing a role in inciting Tuesday’s gathering of hundreds of migrants at Bandra in violation of Covid-19 social-distancing norms.

Vinay Dubey, a native of Uttar Pradesh, serves as president of an organisation called the Uttar Bharatiya Mahapanchayat. He is accused of passing on false information and asking migrant labourers and daily-wagers from north India to gather at Bandra (West) in suburban Mumbai to demand passage back home.

He has been remanded in police custody until 21 April.

Since the nationwide lockdown has seen inter- as well as intra-state travel grind to a near-complete halt, many migrants have been stranded away from home, with state governments around the country arranging food and shelter for them.

Over 1,000 migrants gathered at Bandra Tuesday afternoon around 3 pm, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the national lockdown until 3 May, with many demanding that they be sent home. 

Given that Covid-19 is an extremely infectious disease, the gathering Tuesday was seen as constituting a major transmission hazard. 

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said in a tweet, “I have ordered an investigation into the rumour that claimed trains will take migrants back home. Those found guilty of sparking such rumours will be dealt with severely.”

Police in Mumbai have also arrested a local TV news reporter for allegedly misleading migrants with claims that special trains will be arranged (no date specified), but the Marathi journalist, Rahul Kulkarni, has defended himself by sharing the railways note that served as the basis of his report. 

Also Read: Bandra migrant crowd: Arnab, Rahul Shivshankar see conspiracy, Sardesai on ‘healing touch’

A resident of Navi Mumbai

Dubey claims to be a champion for the cause of north Indian migrants living in Mumbai but is not “too popular” among them. 

His social media profile reveals him to be a critic of PM Narendra Modi, the BJP and the RSS. According to sources close to him, he also visited Shaheen Bagh in Delhi as well as Mumbai Baug to express solidarity with protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).  

He is believed to be a resident of Airoli in Navi Mumbai.

After the first phase of the national lockdown kicked in 25 March, and thousands of migrants found themselves stranded in Mumbai, Dubey started the “Chalo Ghar Ki Aur (Let’s Go Home)” campaign to get them home. 

The Mumbai Police FIR against Dubey, which can be accessed on the website, invokes a Facebook post where he called on north Indian migrant labourers to assemble at the Lokmanya Train Terminus (LTT) in Kurla and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in south Mumbai on 18 April if train services don’t resume by then. This post, which made no mention of Bandra (approx. over 10 km away from both locations), was subsequently shared by over 15,000 people. 

The FIR states Dubey had threatened to hold a protest on behalf of migrant labourers on 18 April at Kurla, and had been promoting the same through social media. 

He has been booked under Section 188 (disobedience to duly promulgated order by a government servant) of IPC and also under the Epidemic Act. 

Meanwhile, amid reports that the gathering might have been the result of a turf war between two local leaders, NCP chief Sharad Pawar made an FB Live appeal Wednesday against the communalisation of the event.    

Also Read: No regular income for 74% low-earning families in Ahmedabad since lockdown, finds IIM survey

Becoming a public personality

Dubey is originally from Bhadohi district (close to Varanasi) in Uttar Pradesh and has been in news before. 

He first came under public glare when he invited Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray — whose party was once known to lead violent protests against north Indian labourers — to address the community at a programme he organised in December 2018. 

Although Thackeray attended the programme, MNS sources said it wasn’t without hesitation. “About four days prior to this programme, Raj saheb learnt that Dubey was not someone to be associated with. Since saheb could not cancel the programme as it would send a wrong signal to the people, he attended the programme,” said an MNS source. 

Since Thackeray was attending an event organised by a north Indian platform, his speech received much media coverage across the country, which in turn bolstered Dubey’s profile. In 2019, Dubey contested the Maharashtra assembly elections as an independent from the Kalyan East constituency, but lost to the Shiv Sena. 

Earlier this month, Dubey made a donation of Rs 25,000, on behalf of his father, an autorickshaw driver, to the CM’s Relief Fund for the fight against Covid-19. In a subsequent tweet, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the sum constituted Jatashankar Dubey’s life’s savings.

Also Read: No matter how you look at it, India’s lockdown-2 can cost as many lives as it will save

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




doctor with a stethoscope
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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