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#SuspendBabitaPhogat trends on Twitter, but Commonwealth medallist says she won’t back down

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Screengrab of Babita Phogat | Twitter
Screengrab of Babita Phogat’s video message | Twitter


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New Delhi: “I am no Zaira Wasim, I won’t bow down to your threats.”

This is the message Indian wrestler and Commonwealth medallist Babita Phogat conveyed in a video posted to Twitter Friday for the people condemning her.

Phogat, who joined the BJP last year, claimed she was receiving abusive and threatening phone calls and messages on the social media platform after she tweeted about the Tablighi Jaamat.

On 15 April, Phogat had taken to Twitter to say that coronavirus was only India’s second biggest problem, and “ignorant Jamaatis” were its biggest cause of concern.

A few weeks ago, she also posted about “ignorant Muslim pigs”, who, she claimed, were spreading coronavirus and used the hashtag #NizamuddinIdiots. Many on Twitter were quick to point out that Aamir Khan, who created Dangal, the 2016 biopic based on her life and her sister Geeta Phogat, is a Muslim.

As the controversy grew, the hashtag #SuspendBabitaPhogat began trending after Twitter users accused Phogat of posting communal and divisive tweets.

Phogat hits back

In the video posted Friday, the wrestler said she was the ‘real’ Babita Phogat and would not get scared or intimidated, and would continue speaking up for her country.

Speaking in Hindi, she defended her tweet, saying it wasn’t wrong, and only spoke about those who were spreading Covid-19. She further said that if the Tablighi Jamaat had not spread the virus, the lockdown would have been lifted by now and India would have beaten the virus.

She ended her video by saying that she would continue to tell the truth. She also said she was no Zaira Wasim to be intimidated by threats.

Phogat was referring to the national award-winning Kashmiri actress Zaira Wasim, who played the role of Babita’s sister Geeta in Dangal. Wasim received death threats after she met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in 2017. She was also constantly trolled on social media. In 2019, she announced she was quitting Bollywood.

Calls to suspend Phogat’s Twitter handle come a day after the micro-blogging site suspended the account of actress Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel.

Chandel had advocated violence against Muslims and “secular media”, and accused “mullas” of attacking and killing doctors. Phogat had tweeted in support of Chandel.


Also read: Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel’s Twitter account suspended over ‘shoot mullas’ post


 

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India

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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