While India battles the Coronavirus pandemic, the left ecosystem has been busy trying to cast aspersions on the herculean efforts of the Indian government, especially the Indian Railways. After the lockdown was imposed in India, the country saw an unprecedented crisis with migrant workers from different states wanting to go back home amidst the pandemic. The Indian Railways then started Shramik trains to assist the migrant labourers and ensure that they reach home.
With the Shramik trains ferrying lakhs of migrants home, the Left ecosystem activated its propaganda channels to cast aspersions on the operation. As is the nature of the Left, the angle they decided to exploit was the death of migrant labourers. The assertion that the Left tried to make was the migrant labourers who breathed their last while in transit died due to hunger and dehydration. The aim here was not to express solidarity with the migrant labourers but pull down the Indian Railways as the cases that the media highlighted were ones where they blindly peddled their agenda with little regard for the truth.
The Wire today published an article where they claimed that 3 out of 4 ‘fact-checks’ by PIB were ‘unsubstantiated’. Essentially, they meant that the PIB was trying to hide details and essential facts about the deaths of 3 migrant labourers. The underlying insinuation here that the PIB lied and the migrant labourers indeed did died due to starvation. In this article, we will be looking at each case cited by The Wire and analysing why the assertions by the Left propaganda outlet are wild and baseless.
Case 1 cited by The Wire: Ramratan Raghunath Gond
On 27th, the Railway Ministry spokesperson said that the two individuals who had died on Shramik trains were both suffering from pre-existing conditions. One of them was suffering from Kidney ailment and the other was also suffering from various health problems.
The first person was Divyang Dashrat. Navbharat Times had reported that “The deceased Divyang Dashrath (30) was a resident of Badlapur in Jaunpur. He went to Mumbai with his brother Lalmani Prajapati to making a living. During his return home with his brother, his health in Prayagraj deteriorated due to severe heat and hunger. When the train reached Manduadih station, Dashrath’s brother tried to wake him up but couldn’t.”
This case is not disputed by The Wire since the ailment, Kidney ailment, was mentioned specifically by the media reports.
The second person who died along with Dashrath was 63-year-old Ramratan Raghunath Gond. This is the case on which The Wire has cast aspersions.
The Wire article itself says that when allied propagandists, AltNews tried to speak to the Railways in charge, they were told that Ramratan Raghunath Gond had a lung infection that ultimately became the cause of his death. This was revealed during post-mortem. Casting aspersions, AltNews slyly mentions that they were denied a copy of the post-portem report and hence, any suggestion that Gond, in fact, did die of infection and not hunger was a lie perpetuated by PIB and the Railways officials.
OpIndia did get a hold of the post-mortem report. In the report, it was clearly mentioned that Ramratan Raghunath Gond died due to Septicaemic shock. A septic shock would essentially mean the inability of the heart to pump blood to organs due to infection in the bloodstream, causing organ failure and death.
The Wire also cites the son of the deceased who says that his father had no pre-existing conditions and thus, he must have died of starvation. It is pertinent to note here that septic shock, as mentioned earlier, is the result of a pre-existing bacterial infection that spreads, detected or undetected, and thus, leads to multi-organ failure. When The Wire asserts that the individual died of hunger and the postmortem says that he died of septic shock, it becomes important to understand the starvation does not lead to a bacterial infection that can then lead to septic shock. Thus, the reason that The Wire wants to peddle seems completely medically impossible.
On the other hand, The Wire report itself says that this individual was tested for Coronavirus and was negative. With a lung infection given as the reason by Railways officials to AltNews, it is entirely possible that the individual was displaying symptoms, such as coughing.
It thus seems like The Wire is clutching on to straws when it comes to proving that Ramratan Raghunath Gond died of starvation and to prove this unfounded theory, they are even manipulating the family members of the deceased.
Case 2 cited by The Wire: 23-year-old Arvina Khatoon
A few days back, a heart-rending video of a hapless child trying to wake up its mother, who was lying motionless on a platform on Muzaffarpur station, was widely circulated on the Internet. The video had gone viral on social media websites after which several media organisations and prominent personalities shared the video and raised questions about the plight of migrant workers who are being transported to their native places even as the coronavirus stalks through the country.
This is another case that The Wire has used to insinuate ‘death due to starvation’ and attempted to also allege that the Railway authorities are lying in their explanation.
Interestingly, the Patna High Court last week took suo moto cognisance of the death of the woman on board a train from Gujarat to Bihar after the video of the child fiddling with the dead body of his mother provoked outrage on social media. The Railways responded by submitting an affidavit in the court filed by Sarvapriya Mayank, Principal Chief Security Commissioner, RPF in East Central Railway on behalf of the Union of India.
The total time of the travel was approximately 41 hours. The route taken by the train was from Ahmedabad to Ajmer—Gorakhpur—Hajipur—Muzaffarpur. The affidavit mentions that the normal running time on the route, traversed by Sabarmati Express (19165), is usually 43 hours but the Shramik train which was boarded by Arbina Khatoon took lesser time than the normal train, dismissing various reports that claimed that the train took multiple diversions and reached its destination very late.
In addition, the affidavit declared that the lady was disembarked from the train at Muzaffarpur station and she was lying in an unconscious state. Inspector of RPF on duty, Ved Prakash Sharma and Muzaffarpur Station Master was informed about the incident. A requisition memo was sent to Railway Doctor who later arrived at the platform 3 and pronounced the lady dead. Finding no apparent cause of death he advised postmortem examination.
The affidavit clearly mentions that the brother-in-law of the deceased lady admitted that Arbina had died at 12 PM on the same day, meaning 4 hours before the train reached Muzaffarpur station, and after discussing with his relatives on phone, he was advised to get down at Muzaffarpur to proceed to Katihar on some vehicle by road. Xerox copy of the Doctor’s report has been attached with the affidavit.
The statement was made by the deceased’s brother-in-law, in front of the officer-in-charge of GRP and with his wife Kohinoor Khatoon by his side. He also claimed that Arbina had become mentally unstable from some time, adding that her husband had deserted her and she was keeping unwell since a while back.
The Wire cites the family members of Arvina Khatoon saying that the lady was not suffering from any ailment and was mentally and physically fine. However, OpIndia has now accessed the sworn statement by the brother-in-law which was also submitted to the court.
AltNews and The Wire claim to have spoken to sister Kohinoor and brother-in-law Mohammed Wazir who said that Khatoon was mentally and physically fit. However, Mohammed Wazir himself had signed a statement saying that she was indeed unwell.
It is entirely possible that a family that just lost a member would be hard pressed to provide accurate statements, however, AltNews and The Wire seem to have used the plight of the family to benefit their own agenda against the Indian Railways.
Recently, when AltNews, with three of its editors, spent seven days ‘researching’ the death of one Arvina Khatun from Muzaffarpur (Bihar), they wrote a 17-km long copy to prove nothing. Specifically, if we talk about just one aspect of the said ‘fact check of fact check’ that hovers around ‘whether Arvina received food or not’, there are as many as five statements.
First statement is from her brother in law, Wazir, who spoke to BBC on the day of death, and said that they were given food and water by Railways.
Then, while speaking to AltNews he claimed that food or water was not provided and what he spoke to BBC was under stress. Although, no one in AltNews realised the brilliance of Wazir to save the face of government when supposedly they killed his sister in law!
The third statement came from his wife, Kohinoor (Arvina’s sister) who claimed that she did not eat before boarding the train.
However, the fourth statement about Arvina’s hunger came from Wazir who said he saw her eating before they boarded the train. The fifth instance of statements on her hunger comes from Noor Parvez, a Dainik Bhaskar local reporter, who talked to the family (some of them not even on that train) which claimed that ‘none of the passengers’ were given any food or water.
This entire narrative falls apart from a simple fact that there were no complaints to Railways regarding the absence of foodservice or its quality (if it was provided). Railways released a detailed statement saying the food was served as many as four times during the journey, at Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Kanpur and Chhapra.
Thus, the second cases cited by The Wire also seems to fall short of substantiating their agenda.
Case 3 cited by The Wire: 4-year-old Irshad
The third case which is cited by The Wire is that of a 4-year-old child, Irshad.
Following is the ‘fact-check’ according to The Wire.
At the very outset, there are several discrepancies in the so-called ‘fact-check’. Firstly, the statement from the family itself says that they were provided food on the 23rd, which is, when they started their journey. However, later, the family says that they were hungry for 4 days.
However sensitive we are to the plight of the family after they lose their 4-year-old child, these discrepancies are ones that any alleged ‘fact-checker’ would have caught on to and thus, deemed the testimony of the grieving family unreliable.
Further, the journey was of 2 days. According to the RPF, the child was receiving treatment for a pre-existing condition before they started that journey. However, if there are discrepancies in the statement of the family, one has to wonder if the family asserting that the child was receiving no treatment is also true.
Further, The Wire article itself says that the family refused to get the post-mortem of the child done. Now, in the absence of a post-mortem report, it becomes difficult to establish beyond doubt the cause of death. The question also arises as to why the family refused to get a post-mortem done of the deceased child.
AltNews and The Wire conveniently ignore facts to suit agenda
As can be seen, AltNews and The Wire are conveniently ignoring the facts to suit an agenda. In fact, they not only ignore the facts but twist them to misinterpret and misrepresent to make the government appear guilty for reasons best known to them.