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Meerut cancer hospital wants Muslims to come only after getting Covid-19 negative test report

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A Covid-19 test can cost as much as Rs 4,500 | R Senthil Kumar | PTI
A Covid-19 test can cost as much as Rs 4,500 | R Senthil Kumar | PTI


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New Delhi: A cancer hospital in Meerut is facing heat for an ad it published Friday, in which it directed Muslim patients to seek treatment at its facility only if they’ve tested negative for Covid-19. Furthermore, it also mandated that Muslim patients should be accompanied by a caretaker who has also tested negative for the highly infectious disease.

The ad resulted in several complaints of discrimination and a warning from the district administration to the hospital to roll back the new rule or risk losing its medical license.

“For the purpose of maintaining the security of the hospital staff and patients, the hospital requests all new Muslim patients that they and one caretaker with them get tested for Covid-19 and come to the hospital only if their reports are negative.”

Valentis Cancer Hospital had posted the advertisement in the daily Dainik Jagran, and claimed that several Muslim patients had not followed the rules and regulations, such as using a mask and maintaining cleanliness, and misbehaved with staff.

While it explicitly said all Muslims will have to produce their negative test results, the ad also listed out a few exemptions.

“The rule does not apply to doctors, paramedical staff, judges, police officers as well as those Muslims who do not live in areas with high Muslim population,” it stated.

As complaints came in, the hospital maintained that the advertisement was not discriminatory, but later issued an apology.

“We just appealed to all people of the country to support our health officers and administration and not create problems as that would be dangerous for everyone,” Dr Amit Jain, an oncologist who is part of the hospital management team, told ThePrint.

“Seventy per cent of our patients are Muslims, thousands of Muslims in the past have been cured of cancer in our hospital. Some people are just creating false propaganda,” he added.

However, when asked about the phrasing of the advertisement and how it singled out one community, Dr Jain said, “Some words were twisted and may have been written incorrectly.”

“We just meant to say that people who are in hotspots should get screened,” he added.


Also read: Covid an excuse to push Indian Muslims out of informal sector jobs. Apartheid the next step


Tablighi argument

The advertisement had cited the cases that emerged in various parts of the country which were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation that took place in Delhi last month. As authorities worked to trace all the attendees of the congregation and quarantine them, there were reports of some people misbehaving with health workers.

“Them repeatedly not following the guidelines, not being cautious, troubling the hospital staff, only shows their ill-intention,” the ad said.

It further said the actions of a few Muslims was resulting in the community having to endure some hardships.

“It is due to the ignorance and ill-intention of some Muslim brothers that all Muslim brothers will have to suffer for some time. But this is important in larger public interest and also in the interest of Muslim brothers,” the advertisement stated.

The ad also referenced “wealthy Hindus/Jains among whom many are miserly” as it appealed to people to donate to the PM-CARES relief fund, set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raise money for the country’s Covid-19 efforts.


Also read: Hindu, Muslim NRI groups pan ‘escalation of Islamophobia’ in India after Tablighi incident


Adding insult to injury 

Valentis published an apology Saturday, but only added more fuel to the fire by stating that it didn’t mean to hurt Hindu and Jain sentiments. It, however, did not address the issue of separate rules for Muslim patients nor did it clarify if it was in effect.

“Some people of the Hindu and Jain faith have been hurt due to our notice yesterday. A wrong message was sent and we regret it and ask for forgiveness,” the apology read.

It also said, “If any Hindu/Muslim/Sikh/Christian was hurt because of our advertisement, we apologise.”

“It was supposed to be a more general appeal to everyone to not be miserly at this point and donate generously,” Dr Jain said, adding that the “apology was for everyone”.


Also read: Call it a mistake, not conspiracy against India, say Muslim scholars on Tablighi Jamaat event


Police register FIR

Meerut’s Medical administration said it would take strict action against the hospital if it did not apologise and roll back its new patient rule soon.

“We have issued a notice to them today (Sunday). If they don’t tender an apology in the next three days, we will revoke their license. They need to explicitly take back the ruling. No such language and discrimination is allowed in our country,” Raj Kumar, Chief Medical Officer, Meerut district administration, told ThePrint.

The Valentis Hospital ad had also stated that in cases of an emergency, Muslims will be admitted to the hospital but the samples of the patient and the caretaker will be mandatorily collected and screened at the patient’s expense. Each Covid-19 test costs Rs 4,500.

The Incholi Police station, under whose jurisdiction the hospital falls, has registered an FIR on the Meerut Police’s orders.

Brijesh Kumar Singh, the station house officer (SHO) of the Incholi Police station, said the hospital administration had been booked and an investigation is ongoing.

“We have registered an FIR against them under IPC Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Section 295 (insult to religion), and Section 505-3 (Statements to incite a community),” Singh told ThePrint.

While Singh said the police would try and conclude the inquiry soon, he noted “there is no timeline and deadline for such investigations”.


Also read: How Tablighi Jamaat emerged as the ‘largest known’ Covid-19 source in South Asia


 

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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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