On Thursday (April 29), journalist Barkha Dutt was hit with the tragic news about her father SP Dutt. Barkha Dutt took to Twitter to inform that her father had tragically died after being tested positive for COVID-19. The former Air India official succumbed to the Coronavirus infection on Tuesday (April 27).
Barkha Dutt has been on the road, reporting the dire conditions as India faces its toughest challenge yet – the deadly second wave of the Wuhan Coronavirus. It was in the midst of this that Barkha lost her father.
A couple of days after the death of her father, in an interview with Kim Brunhuber of CNN, Dutt stated, “My father’s last words to me were I am choking. Please give me treatment. And I tried my best. Even being a journalist, who knows doctors and can pay for the best private medical treatment. The private ambulance that ferried him to the hospital had an oxygen cylinder that did not work.”
She added, “It got delayed because there is no green corridor for the ambulances in the city in the Capital eve now. By the time we reached the hospital because the oxygen (cylinder) had failed/faltered, his levels had fallen precipitously. He had to be taken into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He never made it back.”
Indian @washingtonpost columnist @BDUTT says her father’s last words were “I’m choking. Please give me treatment.” She tried her best, but he passed away due to Covid. She tells me the ambulance had no oxygen, the cremation ground had no space. Heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/vdcuQ81O1T— Kim Brunhuber (@kimbrunhuber) April 29, 2021
Barkha Dutt further continued, “It has not been a few days and not even 48 hours. When we went to cremate him, there was no space at the cremation ground. There was a physical fight that erupted between multiple families. We had to call the police to cremate my father. And yet in this moment of loss, it was difficult to articulate and put together a bunch of sentences.”
“I speak because I realise that despite my devastation, I was luckier than most Indians. Today, I think about the orphans of the Indian state,” the journalist concluded. She also said that she was heartbroken at the state of families waiting outside hospitals or the deceased waiting to be cremated. Dutt also claimed that the brother of one of the Coronavirus patients told her that the family was left at the mercy of God.
After coming under fire from employers post Barkha Dutt revelations, the ambulance driver gives clarification
After the revelations made by Barkha Dutt, we are told that the driver and the caretaker of the ambulance came under heavy fire from their employers. It was then that the driver had explained that he is pained every time a life is lost. He had also said that perhaps claims made during times of distress might not be entirely true.
Following this, the ambulance driver and its owner have denied the allegation that the oxygen cylinder in the vehicle was not working.
Sonu, the ambulance driver, said that the oxygen cylinder was full and Barkha Dutt herself had checked the supply. The audio conversation was published by The Pulse. He recounted that the journalist had inquired about the oxygen supply in advance. According to him, she had checked both the mask and the flow of oxygen before ferrying her father to the hospital.
“She interrupted me during the journey and repeatedly asked me to check the oxygen supply. I assured her that it was working fine. We had reached the hospital without any issues. We were accompanied by two of her vehicles. The patient’s caretaker was also with him. I had even stood outside the emergency department for 15-20 minutes. The patient also got down from the ambulance without any difficulty,” Sonu claimed.
“I had personally carried the patient from the first floor of his house to the ambulance. Why is she lying? I had shown her that the mask, oxygen cylinder were working properly. There were several witnesses including Barkha Dutt’s two drivers and a security guard. I am not lying,” he reiterated. Sonu further stated that the claims of missing oxygen cylinder in the ambulance was untrue and that he had given a demo of the same to the journalist.
Essentially, the driver of the ambulance said that before the patient (Barkha Dutt’s father) boarded the ambulance, Barkha asked to check the large oxygen cylinder in the ambulance. The driver claims that Barkha had even asked if the cylinder is a small one or a big one and questioned why there was a big cylinder in a small ambulance. Nevertheless, after that was checked by her, the driver asked Barkha if she was carrying an oxygen mask for her patient. Barkha then asked the driver why he did not have one, to which, the driver said that they carry one too but several patients prefer to use their own. If she did not have one, the ambulance has one nonetheless.
He further said in the middle of the journey, the ambulance was stopped and the working of the cylinder was again questioned. At that time, the driver had demonstrated that the oxygen cylinder was indeed working. He even claimed that Barkha Dutt was lying and that if she really was telling the truth, she would have taken a photograph then and there.
The Pulse informed that they had got a copy of the audio conversation with Sonu via journalistic sources in the interest of balanced reporting. While Barkha Dutt told CNN that her father became critical due to a faulty oxygen supply, the ambulance driver reiterated that the patient was normal when he deboarded the ambulance. At the same time, he explicitly mentioned that Dutt had herself checked the oxygen supply and the functioning of the mask prior to the journey from her father’s residence to the hospital.