DEATH DREAMERS: Why Arvind Kejriwal Must Not Hide the Covid Calamity in Delhi

The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan chairing the review and coordination meeting on COVID-19, in New Delhi on March 09, 2020. The Lt. Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijal and the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal are also seen. Photo: PIB
The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan chairing the review and coordination meeting on COVID-19, in New Delhi on March 09, 2020. The Lt. Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal and the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal are also seen. Photo: PIB

DEATH DREAMERS

Why Arvind Kejriwal Must Not Hide the Covid Calamity in Delhi

The Delhi Government is exacerbating the lethal impact of coronavirus by hiding the real data related to the infection.

By Rakesh Raman

As New Delhi is already the most polluted national capital in the world, now it appears that the city has also become the most infected capital as the coronavirus (Covid-19) infection is spreading in all corners of Delhi. After Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat Delhi is the fourth worst-affected state in terms of Covid cases in India.

Although the chief minister (CM) of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal – who is a dishonest politician – is releasing an understated number of Covid cases and deaths, reports suggest that even with wrong data, the city is witnessing an unprecedented spike in infection almost every day.

On May 28, for example, Delhi recorded 792 new cases in a 24-hour period – which is the biggest spike so far. As Kejriwal had lifted the lockdown restrictions abruptly on May 18 without any plan, the Covid cases and deaths have been increasing in the city.

While Lt. Governor Anil Baijal who has no reason to hide the truth must reveal the actual Covid data, he has been relegated to a mere figurehead role while Kejriwal and his corrupt colleagues are calling the shots.

Moreover, the Delhi bureaucrats are simply ignoring the citizens’ complaints that urge them to save the people from the deadly Covid infection. But Baijal and Kejriwal are ignoring the carelessness of bureaucrats while there is no accountability for their inefficiency and negligence.

FAKE COVID DATA

Independent reports suggest that there is a wide mismatch between the Covid death figures released by the Kejriwal government and the records available at the cremation, burial grounds which show a far higher number of deaths.

Recently, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi High Court which alleged that the Delhi Government was downplaying the spread of the disease and not presenting the true data on the number of people who had died due to Covid.

The court did not accept the PIL argument saying that the Covid data of the Death Audit Committee formed by the Delhi Government cannot be questioned. However, this is an absurd observation of the court because the government data is vague and incomplete.

Since most judges in India lack domain expertise, they give haphazard judgments in cases that pertain to specialized fields such as environment and coronavirus. The less said about the Indian courts, the better.

DEATH THREATS FOR EDITORIAL WORK

As a journalist, I have been facing increasing threats including death threats for my editorial and anti-corruption work while the Indian authorities have ignored my complaints about these threats.

The Paris-based international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that defends freedom of journalists has urged the Indian government to save me from threats and persecution.

Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of RSF, has written letters to Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law and Justice Minister; Amit Shah, Union Home Minister; and others, asking them to take action against the culprits who threaten me. In an article written on its site, RSF explains that in the recent months I have received multiple threats for my reporting.

Now, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India has issued notice to Delhi Police in my case so that I could work and move freely, but the Delhi Police did not respond.

Rakesh Raman

It is learnt that the Kejriwal government is not showing the cause of death as coronavirus on the death certificates of the deceased because that will expose Kejriwal’s failure in handling the crisis. Since the court is not aware of this fact, it should have ordered an independent audit of the Covid data being released by the government.

Recently, I sent a list of queries to Kejriwal to know the real Covid facts and figures but he did not respond because he does not want to tell the truth. Kejriwal is concealing the data about Covid tests, false negative / false positive tests, contact tracing, quarantining, recovery duration, and so on. Kejriwal’s falsehood can also be found in the fact that the government’s cases vs. deaths calculation is wrong.

On average, 6% Covid infected people die. In the U.S., for example, over 100,000 people died when the number of cases were 1.7 million. In other words, nearly 6% of patients died.

The percentage of deaths is supposed to be more than 6% in Delhi because there is hardly any healthcare facility in the city to handle Covid patients.

The official Delhi data says that as of May 28, there were 15,000 Covid cases and only about 300 deaths. This is only 2% deaths of the total number of patients. But actually the number of deaths should be 900 even at this incomplete data level.

INADEQUATE TESTING

The number of cases are also low in Delhi because the Delhi Government is not doing adequate testing. Reports suggest that Delhi has done only about 30,000 tests on the local population of 30 million (3 crore) people. In other words, only 1,000 tests are done for 1 million (10 lakh) people.

Many people who need a test are not being tested. If Delhi covers 10% of its population with tests, there will be hundreds of thousands of Covid cases which the government is ignoring. In order to falsely show that the Delhi Government is handling the Covid crisis effectively, the government is merging the Covid deaths with general deaths.

An estimated 13,000 deaths take place in Delhi every month. It is very easy to hide a few hundred Covid deaths in this number every month and show them as deaths from other complications. The Delhi Government seems to be doing exactly that to hide the truth about Covid calamity.

In fact, by giving wrong numbers, the government is exacerbating the already dire situation because people are now defying all social-distancing and masking guidelines thinking that there is no significant impact of coronavirus.

HOW TO SAVE LIVES FROM CORONAVIRUS

While Kejriwal must be saving lives, he is actually causing death and destruction with his complacency to deal with the infection. If Kejriwal really wants to save the lives of Delhi residents, he must make the entire Covid data and government arrangements public.

While almost all Delhi Government websites have been designed crudely with insufficient information, the Kejriwal government must hire web content and web user interface experts to create a dedicated portal that should give real-time information to the citizens.

Recently, I sent a letter to Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to take the correct data from the Indian government. While the minister could not provide the actual information on the queries that I had sent, the Delhi Government can put the information on these lines on its web portal.

This online information should also include the hourly work performance of each bureaucrat every day because most Delhi bureaucrats are corrupt and careless who are not taking the Covid crisis seriously.

Of late, I have also created a Coronavirus Impact Index (CII) to expose the data fraud being committed by various governments. The Delhi Government can use CII to handle data effectively.

Moreover, Kejriwal must realize that the coronavirus infection is spreading rapidly in all those areas where the lockdown restrictions have been relaxed. Therefore, if Kejriwal is really serious to deal with coronavirus, he must reimpose lockdown for a few more weeks in the city. He should reopen Delhi only when he has sufficient scientific data to support his decision.

Although callous Kejriwal says that people should learn to live with coronavirus, he fails to understand that people can’t live with coronavirus; they can only die with coronavirus. And by taking reckless decisions, Kejriwal is causing enormous death and destruction in the city for which he must be held accountable.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.

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