Lucknow: The principal of a government-run medical college in Kanpur finds herself in a controversy after a viral video purportedly showed her referring to Tablighi Jamaat members as “terrorists”.
“These (Jamaatis) are terrorists. They are wasting our resources. The CM is getting them treated for their appeasement. They should be lodged behind bars,” Dr Aarti Lalchandani of GVSM Medical College is purported to have said, according to the video.
“Here, they keep misbehaving. We have been turned into their caretakers. They keep on doing drama throughout the night.”
#GSV मेडिकल कॉलेज #कानपुर की प्रिंसिपल #आरती #लालचंदानी के ज़हरीले बोल सुनिये
ये चाहती हैं कि कोरोना के मुस्लिम पेशेंट को जंगल में छोड दिया जाये, सामने बैठे पत्रकार सलाह दे रहे हैं कि एक एक इंजेक्शन क्यूँ नहीं@PMOIndia@MoHFW_INDIA@UPGovt @Uppolice @AwasthiAwanishK pic.twitter.com/qkcNnBwlII
— UPENDRA DWIVEDI #RG (@upendraINC) May 31, 2020
As the video, which went viral Sunday, triggered calls for action against her, Dr Lalchandani defended her rant and threatened to approach police against the journalist who allegedly recorded the video and used it to blackmail her.
She said the video is 60 days old, and told ThePrint that she made the comments when some Jamaat members brought to the hospital “acted indecently”. Even so, she alleged the video had been “tampered with”.
“It was shot during the first week of April, when the Jamaatis were admitted at the medical college for isolation,” she said over the phone. “At that time, many of them were acting indecently. Due to this, she said, she had “become extremely upset and merely expressed her anguish in the presence of some local journalists”.
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“I made this comment on strictly ‘off-the-record’ basis. As I was talking to some local journalists, one of the scribes working for a local channel shot this video. It can be termed a sting operation… Later on, he started to blackmail me,” Lalchandani said. “For several days, he kept saying that he had a video of mine and if I do not give him some work related to the medical college, it will be made viral. I did not listen to this threat and hence the video was released.”
Lalchandani said she will approach police with an official complaint against the journalist, Ramji Sharma, on the charges of blackmailing.
She added that she “respects all religions and does not hold any hatred towards any particular sect”. “That day, I was simply feeling hurt due to the (indecent) behaviour of the Jamaatis.”
Raised the ‘misbehaviour’ in April too
The Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni missionary organisation based in Delhi, came under the lens late March when it was accused of violating social-distancing norms to host an event at its Nizamuddin headquarters somewhere around the middle of the month.
With hundreds packed into the building, many members are believed to have contracted the virus.
Several members of the organisation subsequently left the headquarters for their hometowns, and they were linked to a surge in infections around India. On 18 April, the health ministry said as many as 30 per cent of India’s Covid cases were linked to the organisation.
Dr Lalchandani had raised the issue of the Jamaatis’ alleged misbehaviour in April as well. In a conversation with a TV channel on 4 April, she had alleged that the Jamaatis “are spitting here and there, do not take prescribed medicines and do not believe” the coronavirus pandemic.
Tablighi Jamaat COVID-19 patients spitting on floor, troubling health care staff: Dr Aarti Lalchandani, Principal, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Medical College, Kanpur pic.twitter.com/em6OqpaMzi
— India TV (@indiatvnews) April 4, 2020
Her viral rant has led to calls for action against her. Former Kanpur MP and veteran CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali has described her language as “unconstitutional as well as objectionable”.
“She is terming members of a minority community, who were brought to the hospital for treatment, as terrorists. Some action must be taken against her,” she added.
Have publicly condemned and demanded her removal and prosecution https://t.co/DlrvypSZek
— Subhashini Ali (@SubhashiniAli) June 1, 2020
However, Uttar Pradesh director general (medical education) K.K. Gupta said he had not received any complaint as of yet.
“It is an issue best tackled at the administrative level and any action will be taken by them only. It is to be mentioned that, so far, no action has been taken by the Yogi Adityanath government in this case,” he added.
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