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Centre to Madras High Court

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Chennai: The Centre has informed the Madras High Court that it was not possible for it to organise any evacuation of Indian nationals from any foreign country in the current COVID-19 lockdown situation.

The submission was made in a counter to a PIL seeking steps to bring about 350 Indians stranded in Malaysia after visiting the country on tourist visa.

A Special Bench of Justice R Subbiah and Justice R Pongiappan, before which the PIL came up for hearing, adjourned the matter after two weeks after going through the counter.

In the counter, filed by Additional Solicitor General G.

Rajagopalan on behalf of the Union Home Ministry, the government submitted that after the global outbreak of COVID- 19 it has proactively taken steps to ensure safety and well- being of Indian nationals abroad as well as people in the country.

It said all types of passenger movements through designated immigration land checkposts on the country’s borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar border have been suspended so as all scheduled international commercial passenger flights.

Some of the countries have reported a very large number of cases including deaths, putting passengers from these countries particularly at higher risk of infection.


Also read: Extend visas of Indians stranded in US: Modi govt asks Trump administration


 

Travel back of such passengers to different regions of India poses a grave risk to the country having a population of over 1.3 billion.

“In such a lockdown situation, it is not possible for the government of India to organise any evacuation of Indian nationals from any country,” the counter said.

Petitioner Gunasekar, an advocate, submitted that while the Malaysian government flew back all its nationals stranded in India by arranging a special flight, the centre was not taking any steps to bring its nationals in Malaysia.

According to him, his client Mullainathan had telephoned him from Malaysia on April 4 and informed that he visited Malaysia on a tourist visa and that now he was unable to come back due to the lockdown.

Besides his client and his family, there were over 350 Indians stranded in Malaysia due to the cancellation of the flight operations following the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Supreme Court had on Monday observed that Indian citizens stranded in various countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic should “stay where they are” after the Centre said it would not be feasible to “selectively evacuate” those who want to return due to various reasons.

The centre’s response was to a batch of pleas seeking evacuation of Indian citizens from different countries, including United Kingdom and Gulf nations.


Also read: Indian Navy designs air pod for safe evacuation of Covid-19 patients from remote locations


 

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India

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

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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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