Congress reiterates demand for panel to probe India COVID-19 deaths
A day after the World Health Organization (WHO) report said that India’s COVID-19-related death toll is estimated to be 47 lakh, which is nearly 10 times more than the official count, the Congress reiterated its demand of forming a commission to ascertain the number of fatalities and examine India’s response to the pandemic.
The Congress party wanted members from all the political parties to be included in the commission. The party also said that the government should pay ₹4 lakh compensation to family members of all of victims.
“47 lakh Indians died due to COVID-19 and not 4.8 lakh as claimed by the government. Science doesn’t LIE. Modi does. Respect families who’ve lost loved ones. Support them with the mandated ₹4 lakh compensation,” former Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Speaking on the issue, several Congress leaders accused the government of “under-reporting COVID deaths” to avoid paying compensation to the families of the deceased.
Though the government rejected WHO’s claim, the Congress held a press conference on the issue. Party spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the Modi government has let India down on the world stage once again. “When the BJP claims of putting India on the world stage, is this the way we Indians want to see our country being mentioned on the world stage?” asked Mr. Vallabh.
The Congress leader alleged that when a Madhya Pradesh-based newspaper reported a higher COVID-related deaths than the official count, the publication was raided by the central investigative agencies. Mr. Vallabh also argued that according to a Lancet, a highly-reputed international medical journal, had earlier claimed that India’s COVID-related death figure is 40.1 lakh.
“When will the agencies raid WHO now? Is the government’s underreporting of COVID deaths data a way to escape paying the COVID compensation to the families of the deceased?” asked the spokesperson.
He said the government must heed their demand for setting up a COVID commission to “analyze the deaths that happened due to unavailability of Oxygen, broken supply chain in case of vaccines and medicines and plan for better management during such pandemics”.
“The government must immediately pay Rs. 4 lakh to the families of the people who have died due to COVID. If it can’t provide medical care and facilities... this is the least the Modi government can do to pay its respects,” Mr Vallabh added.