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Mamata gives Rs 10 lakh insurance cover to journalists, asks them to report positive news




West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee distributes masks around Kolkata Friday
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee distributes masks around Kolkata Friday | PTI

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Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday asked journalists in the state to highlight positive news amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying negative reports were leaving people “depressed”

“This is not my opinion, I have heard this. People are getting very depressed seeing negative news all the time,” she said in a video address to the media from Nabanna, the state secretariat. 

“They do not even have serials to watch as shooting has stopped. They are only seeing Covid-19 all the time. There is nothing beyond it and this affects mental health. I would request everyone to highlight positive things and present Bengal as a model,” the CM said.

“The reporters, who are working round the clock (amid the pandemic), have no cover, neither do they have good salaries,” she said. “They are working very hard. We are extending our Rs 10 lakh insurance cover to all accredited journalists. They (journalists) should be involved with the government. They have a lot of information that will help us during this hour of crisis,” said Mamata. “I would request you to share information of people starving or malpractices, if any.” 

When ThePrint approached government officials to ask what the scheme would entail, they said it would be a combination of medical and life cover that will extend until 31 May.

The chief minister also weighed in on retrenchment in the media industry, which has been blamed on the economic impact of the lockdown, saying journalists should not be fired. 

Also Read: IAS officer’s wife, professor, ex-MP — Bengal’s Covid-19 ‘rumour factory’ a club of elites

‘Don’t misreport deaths’ 

Mamata’s praise for journalists came two days after she took exception to media reports that purportedly presented an inflated Covid-19 toll for West Bengal, and threatened to book scribes who report “unconfirmed” fatality figures. 

Over the past few days, she has warned journalists against citing figures obtained from random hospitals or health officials, saying data should be verified by the government. 

“Some of you (reporters) wrote that 30 people were killed. From where are you getting this data? Who confirmed such numbers?” she said Wednesday. 

Mamata has set up an expert committee that analyses all Covid-19 deaths. The panel goes through the medical history and other reports of each patient and gives its views on the ‘cause of death’. 

As recommended by the committee, the government updates the death figure once in four days. The current toll for Bengal stands at 10. 

Also Read: Don’t celebrate Bengal, news of home delivery of booze is fake. Be happy with sweets


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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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