Congress supporter and serial petitioner Saket Gokhale has filed yet another petition, this time in Allahabad High Court against UP CM Yogi Adityanath. However, like several other petitions by him recently, this one is also based on fake news.
Saket Gokhale has approached the High Court seeking to restrain the Uttar Pradesh government from taking action against people who appeal for oxygen supply and other medical requirements on social media. He also sought protection of independent volunteers who are helping Covid-19 patients and their families by collecting information on oxygen and medicine availability on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp.
“Filing criminal cases against families of critical patients issuing SOS calls for oxygen on social media is a gross misuse of the powers of the state and is illegal coercive action that is being taken to “maintain the image of the government” and to clamp down on any criticism of their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and to present a fake picture that everything is hunky dory in the state,” the plea filed by the so-called activist said.
In the petition, Gokhale referred to the incident of Amethi Police registering a case against a youth who had appealed for oxygen for his grandfather, which had turned out to be fake appeal later. Saket Gokhale accused that Yogi Adityanath govt is cracking down on medical requirement appeals on social media, and it takes away the fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21 and the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the constitution. He said that the govt is threatening families of Covid-19 patients who might be facing an oxygen shortage, and it’s a violation or laws by the state governments.
Although it is true that Amethi Police have booked a youth following his oxygen, the fact is that his appeal was found misleading as there was no prescription of oxygen for his grandfather, who later died due to a heart attack. Moreover, after posting his appeal for oxygen on social media where his phone number was given, he didn’t respond when the administration called him several times to help him.
On Monday evening, a man named Shashank Yadav tweeted that oxygen is needed urgently for his maternal grandfather in Amethi. This appeal was amplified by many social media users, and it had reached union minister Smriti Irani when Arfa Khanum Sherwani tagged her in a tweet. This started a high-profile attempt to provide oxygen to the man.
But Smriti Irani later informed that despite calling Shashank thrice in the number provided, there was no response, and she has asked the local administration and the police to find the person in need of help and provide the same. In the meanwhile, a friend of Shashank informed that Shashank’s grandfather has died.
As Amethi police was asked by the minister to find the location of the person to provide, they did the same and found the real story was completely different, and although the old man died, he didn’t die due to lack of oxygen. The also found that the man was not a Covid patient, which was assumed by most due to the appeal for oxygen, even though it was not mentioned in the initial tweet by his grandson.
Amethi SP Dinesh Singh issued a statement today on the incident, where he said that when the police traced the location of Shashank as he was not picking the phone, they found him sleeping in his home, around 20 km from his grandfather’s home. The police team also found that his grandfather didn’t require oxygen, and there was no prescription asking to administer oxygen to him. As a result, the case was filed against him as precious time and resources were lost based on the fake appeal for oxygen.
Therefore, the police filed a case for wrong and false appeal for oxygen, not any genuine appeal. Similarly, UP CM Yogi Adityanath has not ordered any action against the genuine appeal for medical help on social media. The CM was talking about rumours spread on social media aimed at creating panic. He had ordered that properties of those people should be seized who spread rumours about Covid-19. But his statements were twisted and misreported, leading to the perception that he has ordered action against genuine appeals also.
Similarly, another statement of the UP CM has been heavily twisted, with some media houses reporting that Yogi Adityanath has ordered action against hospitals for talking about oxygen shortage. But in this case too, the CM had ordered action against those who lie about oxygen shortage. It has been reported that several hospitals in UP are selling oxygen in the black market, and announcing that they don’t have enough oxygen. This has led to a shortage of oxygen in some places. He had said that there is no oxygen shortage in the state, and some hospitals are creating artificial shortage. The CM had ordered action against such hospitals, not against those who may be facing genuine shortage of oxygen.
This shows that the petition filled by Saket Gokhale is based on wrong and misleading reporting on media and social media, and the allegations made by him in the petition are incorrect and baseless.