Congress leader Harjit Bhatti, who is a doctor by qualification, on Monday took to Twitter to claim that healthcare workers in Assam Medical College are “forced” to cover themselves in plastic bags. He claimed that these plastic bags are the ones which are used to carry biomedical waste. He alleged that there is shortage of personal protection equipments (PPEs) in Assam Medical College.
His allegations were further spread by the usual suspects.
Filmmaker-journalist Vinod Kapri, who regularly indulges in spreading fake news, too joined in. Not to leave a chance to pounce on PM Modi even amidst a crisis, other ‘journalists’ took Bhatti’s tweet on face value, like they always do.
Similar news were shared by other ‘influencers’ with huge following on Twitter.
The tweet was liked by AltNews co-founder Mohammad Zubair (we are yet to see a fact-check on the same on AltNews).
‘Journalist’ associated with leftist propaganda website The Wire, too, shared Joydas’ unverified claims, which he later deleted without explanation.
Similar claims were made by Congress social media convener.
Questioning the government’s priorities is now an anti national act according to some people. But the most patriotic thing a citizen can do is to hold its government accountable. Ministers don’t need glitzy new offices. Doctors need protective gear. https://t.co/s1t3WKWEn6— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) March 23, 2020
This is how Healthcare workers in Assam Medical College are forced to cover themselves, yes, with plastic bags which are used to carry thrash because of lack of protection coveralls.— Saral Patel (@SaralPatel) March 23, 2020
On 10 January 2019, the WHO issued an order to the governments across the world. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/WupAhUBgNJ
However, all their lies were called out by Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
This tweet is highly motivated and some one must be doing purposefully. We have supplied good number of PPE kits in last 3 days. Police has been asked to register an FIR and investigate . I have personally in touch with hospital authorities https://t.co/c0xVRN5Y2G— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 23, 2020
Calling the tweet of Congress leader Harjit Bhatti as ‘highly motivated’, Sarma clarified that the government has supplied good number of PPE kits in past three days. Sarma also informed that the police has been asked to register an FIR against Bhatti and investigate.
Following Sarma’s clarification, Bhatti, Kapri and Joydas quietly deleted their tweets while Patel continues to put it on his timeline, perhaps because like their leader Shashi Tharoor, retweets are more important than facts during the time of crisis.
Meanwhile, Bhatti has tweeted another tweet with same image, claiming that he got calls from Assam Medical College and that they do have PPEs, but the plastic suit was ‘tested’ to be used should a shortage occur.
I received calls from Assam Medical College that they have PPEs this was tested as what can be used if shortage occurs in case of huge load of patients. pic.twitter.com/scqEQFgNqm— Harjit Singh Bhatti (@DrHarjitBhatti) March 23, 2020
Again, there is no basis for these claims.
Who is Dr Harjit Bhatti
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. Not just the 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 demanding medical care for Azad who currently out on bail, 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.
From as far back as 2017, the media has been publishing comments by Dr Bhatti without any indication of his political affiliation. In fact, this phenomenon has continued well into 2020, almost a year after he became a post-holder in the Congress party. Media houses continue to quote him without disclosing his political affiliations and the official post he holds within Congress.
Bhatti’s quotes have been extensively used by media by identifying him as AIIMS doctor. Following violence perpetrated by leftist students on JNU campus early in January, Bhatti had claimed he was treating the students at AIIMS. In fact, Newslaundry introduced Bhatti as the former president of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS, and said that he was at AIIMS when injured students from JNU were brought there. However, the fact is that Bhatti is not a doctor associated with AIIMS. 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.