Today Newslaundy had published a report on the violence that had rocked the JNU on January 5. The report had claimed that the injuries sustained by ABVP members in the conflict were superficial, while the injuries suffered by left-wing student leaders were serious in nature. Newslaundry had relied on comments of a doctor named Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, who had claimed to have treated the students at AIIMS, to make these claims, but questions have been raised on the credibility and authority of Dr Bhatti to make such claims.
Newslaundry introduces Dr Bhatti as the former president of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS, and says that he was at AIIMS when injured students from JNU were brought there. Commenting on the injuries of ABVP members, Bhatti said, “Medically speaking, the injuries their activists allegedly sustained looked superficial. So, their claim seems questionable.” He alleged that “some alleged ABVP fellows with superficial injuries also got themselves admitted into the emergency and were making the other patients and doctors uncomfortable.”
On the other hand, Bhatti says that “a professor and the president of the JNU Students’ Union had deep wounds on the head”, adding that “others had lacerations and swelling on different parts of the body while one was badly hit in the eye.” He opined that they were attacked very bluntly with sharp objects.
Students belong to both ABVP and left-wing organisations have been injured in yesterday’s violence and that’s why they have been admitted at a premier medical care institution like AIIMS. But Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti makes some very serious allegations by saying that the injuries of ABVP members are superficial. It is not just a serious allegation against ABVP, but also on doctors who had admitted in the AIIMS.
Yesterday evening he had tweeted that he was at the trauma centre of AIIMS, and informed about the seriousness of the injuries sustained by JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh. He had said that all students were brutally beaten. After that he had talked to several media houses, giving detail about the nature of injuries sustained by students. He also narrated the nature of injuries on camera in front of AIIMS.
In first official word on the injuries in #JNU mob attack @DrHarjitBhatti tells #Mojo that 23 people are admitted with injuries at the Trauma Centre, students, but also teachers. Most injuries from blunt & sharp objects both, & 2 have lacerations. Watch: https://t.co/9PPU9l33L4
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) January 5, 2020
But the important fact to note is that Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti is not a doctor at the AIIMS. His Twitter profile says he was president of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS, but does not inform about his current medical practice. The Alumni page of AIIMS says that he is working at Manipal Hospital in Delhi. But the website of the hospital lists no doctor by that name. Moreover, when defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra called the hospital, he was informed that they have no doctor by that name.
Therefore, it is extremely curious that a doctor who is not employed at AIIMS, and it is not known where he currently works, got access to the trauma centre of AIIMS, and was able to make serious allegations against some of the students admitted there. This is definitely an unauthorised intervention by an outsider.
Newslaundry knew that Dr Bhatti does not work at AIIMS, as the report intruduces him former president of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS. But still they chose to give legitimacy to his comments, as more than half of the report is based on his statements. The report does not inform on what authority Bhatti was issuing the statements and making serious allegations against a section of injured students.
But why the doctor made such anti-ABVP comments, the answer to that question lies in the fact that he has deep political links. As it turns out, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti is the national convenor of the All India Medical Cell of the Congress party. In February last year, he was appointed to the post in the Congress party.
Congratulations Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti has been appointed as a national convener and doctors who have been appointed the State Coordinators of the All India Medical Cell.
We are confident you will help the people of our nation to the best of your abilities. pic.twitter.com/TGB0OSYr20
— Youth Congress (@IYC) February 15, 2019
Not just Congress party, he is also close with the Bhim Army. He claims to the doctor of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, and has been very vocal in last couple days demanding medical care for Azad who is currently in jail, claiming that he is extremely unwell. He is not just a healthcare provider for Azad, but also a supporter, as he has been seen posting tweets with the hashtag #AzaadiForAzad.
It does not end here, Dr Bhatti is also an anti-CAA activist, and a vocal critic of the Modi government. He has been posting anti-CAA, anti-NRC and anti-Modi government messages on social media.
Turns out this doctor is an anti-CAA activist who has been mobilising crowds against the Act and “Modi Shah”
NL, he is hardly an expert medical voice to be quoted for student injuries pic.twitter.com/0TmxzCagXw
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) January 6, 2020
Newslaundry report does not mention any of this, all which are in public domain. This means they have deliberately hidden the political affiliations of the doctor and used his comments to defame ABVP members frm JNU.
Dr Bhatti is not a doctor at AIIMS, and therefore he is not authorised to comment on treatments being done at the hospital. He is convenor of the medical cell of the Congress party, and a vocal critic of Modi government. Going by his social media posts, it can be assumed that he is a full-time activist at present, while his current employment status is not known.
And comments of such a person was carried by Newslaundry and some other media houses to malign ABVP students injured in the violence. They tried to create an impression that he is associated with AIIMS, in an attempt to give legitimacy to his completely biased comments on the incident.
It is clear that Dr Bhatti has no authority to give statements on the behalf of AIIMS, and also no authority to intervene in the medical treatment of patients inside the hospital. Even if he had entered the JNU along with injured students, it can’t be determined if he also participated in the treatment of students and diagnosed their injuries to determine their nature. If he was allowed to treat and diagnose students, it is a serious lapse on the part of the AIIMS administration, as he is not employed there, and there is no report of AIIMS requesting doctors from outside to help treat the injured students. Hospitals do invite specialists from outside when needed, but Dr Bhatti is not known to be specialist in any specific medical field, and there is no report of AIIMS needing outside specialists for the JNU students.
Unless there is proof that he actually diagnosed the injured students, his comments on the nature of injuries can’t be taken seriously. Moreover, there are evidences that ABVP students suffered serious injuries in the fight, which suggests that the comments made by Dr Bhatti claiming them to be superficial are not correct, and Newslaundry carried false statements made by him.