New Delhi: Sunil Bansal, who headed the dairy business of Yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved, died last week due to Covid-related complications. Aged 57, he died on 19 May after suffering from “severe lung damage and brain haemorrhage” due to Covid-19 and related complications, ThePrint learnt from his colleagues.
Bansal, a specialist in dairy sciences, took charge of Patanjali’s dairy business in 2018, when the company announced its plans to sell packaged cow milk and other milk-based products including curd, buttermilk and cheese.
“He was on ECMO for the last few days,” a friend and former boss said.
ECMO or Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation machines perform the function of a patient’s heart and lungs during their failure or before/after complicated heart/lung surgeries, among other situations.
Bansal’s death comes at a time when Ramdev is courting controversy over his comments about allopathic medicines and Covid. In a 140-second clip that went viral this week, Ramdev is heard saying that “lakhs have died from taking allopathic medicines for Covid-19”.
“We have lost lakhs of people (Covid-19 patients) due to allopathic medicines…rather than shortage of oxygen,” he says.
He is also heard questioning some of the medicines being used to treat Covid-19.
While the Indian Medical Association (IMA) urged the Union health ministry to take action against Ramdev, Patanjali denied its allegation that the latter insulted allopathy and said he was reading a “forwarded WhatsApp message”. On Sunday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote to Ramdev, saying his statement was an insult to doctors working on Covid frontlines and asked him to withdraw it.
Patanjali also stoked a controversy last year when it began selling a bouquet of Ayurved medicines, labelled Coronil, as a cure for Covid-19. Important to note here that a cure for Covid-19 has yet to be found.
The drug subsequently drew ire from the government because Patanjali had not submitted the requisite clinical trial data to prove its efficacy as a cure, and had marketed the product as such without a licence for the same. Coronil has since been repackaged as a Covid supportive treatment and immunity booster.
A respected colleague
Bansal, whose career spanned 32 years, had previously worked with top companies such as Amul, Mother Dairy, Walmart and DS Group. He is survived by his mother Rukmani Bansal, wife Renu Bansal, and children Praveen Bansal and Varsha Bansal.
On Saturday, his family organised a memorial via videoconferencing app Zoom for friends and colleagues.
“I attended his virtual condolences. While conveying condolences, Ram Bharat ji (younger brother of Baba Ramdev) from Patanjali mentioned that Babaji tried his best and was talking to (his) attending doctors regularly,” a former colleague said.
“Sunil was a devotee of Lord Krishna and the entire industry has utmost respect and admiration for him.”