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Before I get into deconstructing the coverup, let us get one thing straight. If the government were innocent, taking straightforward action would have been a simple issue. There would be no need for organized trolls, massive fake news deployment on right wing blogs, smear campaigns against a doctor recognized to have saved lives in a nightmare that already took too many. The coverup, in my eyes, is a confession of guilt. Because direct and appropriate action needs to be avoided, it becomes important to manipulate the country into believing another reality.
Running through the various coverups, diversions and scapegoating attempts.

Siddharth nath singh - Uttar Pradesh health minister

No child died due to lack of oxygen supply

Known facts blow this nonsense claim out of the water so much, there is little to dispute. Oxygen supply was stopped. Patients who died were dependent on oxygen. Efforts were made to ventilate them manually, efforts failed, they died. People saw their kids struggle to breathe and die. If this isn't death due to lack of oxygen, one wonders what is.


Why was oxygen supply absent?

7 deaths a day is normal, explain Uttar Pradesh government

But the death toll is more than 7 per day. It is:

August 7: 9 (4 NICU, 2 AES, 3 non-AES)

August 8: 12 (7 NICU, 3 AES, 2 non-AES)

August 9: 9 (6 NICU, 2 AES, 1 non-AES)

August 10: 23 (14 NICU, 3 AES, 6 non-AES)

August 11: 7 (3 NICU, 2 AES, 2 non-AES)

Given that one doesn't expect doctors, administrators, magistrates to be illiterate, one must conclude that this is a deliberate misreporting of facts that the UP govt is doing.

Yogi Adityanth calls deaths a 'despicable incident'

One wonders which deaths Yogi Adityanath is talking about. The ones that didn't happen as a result of oxygen deprivation or the ones that are not out of the ordinary because 7 deaths a day is normal.

The Uttar Pradesh government is denying a problem with the deaths at all.

So, if there are no deaths out of the ordinary, what is Yogi Adityanath calling despicable? The normal happenings in Uttar Pradesh?

One tends to agree that what is coming to light about how things work in UP is ghastly, even if we don't agree about the deaths being routine.

Pushpa Sales, oxygen supplier booked

The hospital did not pay the bills for the oxygen. The supply was cut off after the supplier continued to provide oxygen for months without payment. When they could no longer do it, the government, instead of finding out why they were not paid, is investigating them for stopping supply. What is to investigate in why they stopped supply? Oldest reason in the book - unpaid bills!

Principal of college resigns / sacked

Depending on which version you believe, the principal of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College resigned on the 12th - the day after the tragedy. The government apparently was planning to sack him, but he had already resigned.

Why did he resign or why did the government want to sack him, if there were no death due to lack of oxygen, as claimed by the health minister and the number of deaths was normal?

"No oxygen deprivation."No postmortem that would prove it conclusively either

there is no provision to get postmortem conducted on patients who died of infection. “Hence, we are not conducting autopsy on bodies of the children"
Dr. P K Singh
New Principal of BRD Medical College
"No post-mortem was done on the deceased"
Siddharth nath singh - Uttar Pradesh health minister
Siddharth Nath Singh
Health Minister
"No postmortem is being conducted on the children who died at the hospital. No family member has come forward till now requesting that postmortem be conducted. We have received no orders for autopsy, in case postmortem examinations were conducted, the cause of death would have come as cardio respiratory arrest."
Dr. K K Gupta director general of medical education
K K Gupta
Director General (Medical Education)
“A detailed inquiry is on… There was no shortage of oxygen,”
Anil Kumar
Gorakhpur Division Commissioner
“I have not received any directive to conduct autopsy on the bodies.”
Ravindra Kumar
Chief Medical Officer

Hospital staff kept the information about non-payment from Yogi Adityanath

Um... oops. Pushpa Sales wrote letters directly to the Chief Minister's office. Multiple times. Well in advance. If Yogi Adityanath won't be informed by hospital authorities AND he won't be informed by his own office about his correspondence, perhaps he should resign and make way for a CM at least respected by his own staff.

Adityanath had made mega efforts against encephalitis

Deaths happened after oxygen supply failed. Only 12 out of 60 deaths in 5 days were in the encephalitis ward. If govt can't understand names of wards, then their competence on encephalitis fight too is suspect. God knows what Adityanath fought, if he cannot even recognize the name or lack of it.

Or, it is a deliberate irrelevant diversion to project Adityanath as blameless.

“Anyone found guilty will not be spared,” ~ Adityanath

If this isn't just lip service to appear to be taking the deaths seriously, why were autopsies not ordered to establish the cause of death conclusively? Why was the doctor who saved more children from dying sacked and organized party trolls put to the job of smearing his reputation? Why is there no investigation into the delay in paying Pushpa Sales for the oxygen supply or investigating rumors of demands of kickbacks?

The targeting of Dr. Kafeel Ahmad

The organized BJP fake news and paid tweeting machinery is at work spreading rumors about Dr. Kafeel Ahmad. Identical points made in identical posts across known BJP fake news websites display a desperate and rambling array of accusations against Dr. Kafeel Ahmad.

Clearly, someone with a reason went digging for dirt on him after appreciative reports of his role in the Gorakhpur tragedy emerged. No such compilation predates the incident. All the compilations make several identical accusations. It seems that BJP does not appreciate anyone saving lives in Uttar Pradesh.

Or more likely, BJP does not like a Muslim saving lives, when it is clearly their thug Adityanath's govt that has fucked up big time and resulted in these deaths. Therefore, standard process. Sleaze, slander, carpet bomb false information.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad stole oxygen cylinders from the hospital

During normal operations, oxygen is supplied to a large central tank and piped through the hospital for providing to patients. A tank is large enough to last the entire hospital for 6 days and costs several lakh rupees. Oxygen cylinders are only the emergency backup, and repeatedly missing or empty cylinders would be noticed. This is like saying someone stole your society's water tank and no one noticed. This is ABSURD.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad spent a year in jail for raping a woman

The minimum sentence for rape in India is 10 years. It is impossible for a rape convict to be out of jail in a year, unless he spent a year in rape without trial and was set free for lack of a case - which is the police closure on record - of him being falsely accused.

If cases being filed is evidence of guilt, Adityanath has cases of murder and attempt to murder against him. Sack? Yes, please.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad was responsible for oxygen supply

Not true. Verified by several individuals and news outlets. Besides, bhakts need to decide whether there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen, or whether there were deaths due to lack of oxygen, requiring someone to be sacked for the lack, in which case, the paper trail for investigating lack of payments is useful. Multiple letters to both the hospital as well as the CM show that the matter was raised often by the supplier. So why was he not paid?

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad's ward was the only one with deaths - no adults depending on oxygen died.

False. 18 adults died. This was reported by local newspapers well before the incident became a national outrage.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad supported Samajwadi Party and was appointed by them. He was a critic of BJP

Irrelevant even if it were true. The political beliefs of Dr. Kafeel Ahmad are irrelevant to the situation and should not be a reason to punish him in a misplaced political vendetta.

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad had an illegal private practice

It is common for doctors in government hospitals to have a private practice - though it is illegal. Government salaries do not pay as well as private practice and enforcing this rule would result in good doctors stopping working at government hospitals. However, in the case of Dr. Kafeel Ahmad, it isn't true, as he was employed by the hospital on an "ad hoc" basis and was not a full employee and thus the rule did not apply to him.

Even if all the allegations against Dr. Kafeel Ahmad were true (and they seem pure fiction so far)

There is no official explanation for why he was sacked. His guilt on other issues does not explain why he is sacked after saving lives when he was employed just fine before. The sacking of Dr. Kafeel Ahmad does not explain why the bills for oxygen were not paid.

Clearly, there is every effort to evade looking at the obstruction of payments to Pushpa Sales that led them to cut off oxygen supply to the hospital.

Combined with multiple allegations of kickbacks, avoidance of autopsies to establish cause of deaths, a CM who had been informed of the dues pretending to be unaware of them, and organized trolling and fake news being employed to deflect attention and invent scapegoats, it seems clear that the holds on payments came from someone high up in Adityanath's government - the person/s is being protected now.

Otherwise, it would have been a simple matter of finding the deaths outrageous, like everyone else and calling for an investigation into the dues owed by the hospital and the deaths to establish the cause. There would be no need to find someone to blame - the people naturally to blame would be known to the masses and they would be behind bars by now.

As I watch the Gorakhpur tragedy unfold, "Nero's Guests", a documentary by P Sainath, comes to my mind. It concludes with Sainath's speech where he shares a piece of ancient history involving Nero, the infamous emperor of Rome.

When Rome burnt and Nero could not control the fire, he decided to throw a party and invite "everybody who was anybody" to deflect attention from the fire. But there was no provision to illuminate the huge garden that was supposed to accommodate the laundry list of invitees. Which is when Nero had an idea.

He summoned the convicts in the Roman jail, particularly the ones about to be hanged or imprisoned for life, and burnt them alive in the periphery of the garden. The fire ensured there was no absence of light, and the party went on without any difficulties.

As horrific as it sounds, Sainath makes an important point. "The problem for me is not Nero," he says in the speech. "What did Nero's guests do? Did they speak out against it?"

The reactions to the Gorakhpur massacre and I use the word massacre with all responsibility, indicate we, as a society, particularly the urban middle class, have become Nero's guests. The government hospital does not pay 60 lakh rupees for kids' oxygen but spends 40 crores on cow ambulances. In the aftermath of what happened, the doctor who spent from his own pocket to save kids is sacked. One or two other people have been suspended, but the babus, and more importantly, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have shrugged responsibility when the buck directly stops with him.

Yet, social media is flooding with comments normalizing the incident. We are being told how people have died at the hospital in the past, and how Gorakhpur is an ideal town. The doctor who saved kids is sacked and we are told how he is actually an immoral man being accused of crimes in 2009. So when Times Now anchor Navika Kumar asks her guest to not "rake up kids' deaths and divert from real issues" while debating Vande Mataram, she seems to be a mere reflection of Nero's guests who watch her show.

When a man is killed in Dadri, we discuss whether the meat in his fridge was beef. When a man is lynched in Rajasthan, we wonder whether he indeed had a legitimate permit, as if it justifies the lynching if he did not. The way we, in the media, report rural India, and the indifference with which the urban middle class treats the plight of those who are not "one of them", are all examples of normalisation that establish ourselves as Nero's guests. However, If 60 infants dying due to criminal negligence does not disturb us, then nothing will.

The normalization has severely and successfully diluted the value of human life. As George Orwell famously said, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others."

5

This post is the second in a series that discusses democracy and the idea of a shared country from the ground up. The previous post asked why, when the basis of civilization was a need to co-exist with some guaranteed security, the masses chose to believe in paranoia. I attempt to present some views here.

The masses at large are preoccupied with what they come in direct contact with. Few have the inclination or interest to examine what doesn't *appear* to be broken. When thoughts delegitimizing the rights of fellow citizens proliferate, there is little realization that this is something that goes fundamentally against the secure social structure they take for granted as a country.

Nationalism prefers to disenfranchise minorities and appropriate the country in the name of the majority. Secularism believes that regardless of identity, citizens must be equal under law, AND vulnerable minorities MUST be protected - because it is human nature for the majority to choose bullying as an easy way out instead of sharing.

This is not something that is limited to India. The internet and the speed of disseminating information as well as doing it in ways that allow deniability have resulted in a surge of nationalism worldwide that those believing in equality struggle to counter. There are several reasons for this. In a world where established thought respected equality, and growing globalization subtly created an attitude of opportunism being the right of those with access, a subtle erosion of morals toward "might being right" went unnoticed. Furthermore, I don't think enough "thinkers" anticipated that the unthinking masses would simply choose faulty thinking that they could superficially understand over the words of established thinkers and philosophers over the ages. The last straw was the methods.

Whichever country sees a rise of nationalism sees a barrage of incorrect and inflammatory information finding purchase among the masses. This information is not an accident, it is engineered to make people who believe it think that the minority is the threat to the majority. It further provides explanations and conspiracy theories to excuse the crimes perpetrated against the minority and invents or magnifies any wrongs by the minority. And thus, defense indeed becomes the first act in this war. Absurd as it seems, the majority is actually led to believe that the minority is out to make them extinct.

When such thought spreads, you find countries unable to prosecute crimes against the minority because of fear of backlash by a majority that believes them to be justified, resulting in a collapse of law and order. This impunity, of course is exactly what nationalist leaders want, because their entire agenda is impossible to implement in lawful ways in a democratic country.

Fake news is being recognized as a threat to rule of law worldwide now.

But this is the result. How is it that xenophobia spreads to such a degree? Why is it that fake news spreads more rapidly than real news? Well, apart from the obvious reason that fact checking takes time and effort (there are now attempts to make fact checking more easy in an effort to combat fake news) and apart from the obvious reason that fake news is crafted to sound believable - at least to those already primed with a steady barrage of it - there is the fact, that those spreading fake news are operating out of a sense of carrying out a mission for a cause.

I once observed that the approximate time difference between a Modi supporter coming up with an explanation that other supporters like for something indefensible (at this time you will have multiple excuses being made) and it being used popularly as the explanation by the vast majority of supporters is 2 hours for a simple argument, 4-5 hours for something more complex and about half a day if the propaganda involves images.

Compare this with secular intellectuals almost never having the same rebuttal for something, a far fewer number of them, each using their own words, and it is easy to see how one kind of answer has the capacity to rapidly dominate a debate, while the other fails.

This is largely because while nationalists are engaging in a propaganda war for their identity, secular intellectuals are engaging in what they imagine is a debate, where they are presenting their own view.

So the observable difference in spread of nationalist and secular views is also a difference that can be directly measured as one between active promotion of views and expressing an opinion.

To dig in still deeper. If you take a single message that needs to be put out among people to support or defend something, if released among nationalists, it will be forwarded without question and accepted as the correct explanation of events. There is a lot of schadenfreude among secularists when someone like @bhak_sala (a pro-Modi Twitter handle) gets trolled by other bhakts (unquestioning Modi supporters) when he outright dislikes the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. What they miss in their "LOL"-fest is how rare such an incident is. While a party like Congress accepts criticism for the most part (not that they have much choice these days) or supporters in a party like AAP form entire sub-movements in revolt against the actions of their leader, or while socialists and communists literally have so many differences as to almost hold independent views only, a voice of dissent in the BJP is so rare that it is a one off episode and literally involving one person in this instance. It stands out because in spite of BJP being able to generate the largest organized propaganda - and some of it absurdly illogical or inhuman - dissent is almost next to non-existent. This is a hive mind at work. These people aren't there to think for themselves, they are there to win a country for their team.

If a similar message were released among secular intellectuals, unless it is exceptionally well crafted so as to have agreement among those with the various flavors of secular thought, chances are that it will be read by several, further promoted by a few, and commented on with critiques or refinements by most. The slightest disagreement with the arugment or dislike for the author would mean the message goes no further with that person. In effect, there is no "team" spreading secular thought. And it is difficult for such a team to exist as well, because it is difficult for independent thinkers to come up with identical thoughts. And this is still the spread of a message among those already in agreement with secular thought. The impact and credibility of this is further diluted among the masses if concepts people aren't familiar with it are used. Relatively speaking, "jobs are few, get rid of reservations and we'll have more" is easy to understand when compared with "2-3% caste-class elites already have over 50% jobs and much more in private sectors" - particularly if the 2-3% elites have never had any reason to question why the whole country should run as per their preferences.

So, it is absurd when bewildered secular intellectuals today ask how the country could deteriorate to this degree. Well, your thoughts were not accessible to the masses, the thoughts that were not just accessible, but actively promoted among the masses were simple to understand and made prejudice sound the need of the hour, and you never bothered to organize to elevate the thinking of the masses beyond presenting your refined thoughts.

It is no coincidence that when thoughts of hate proliferate, there is absolutely no concerted campaign going on explaining the basics of democracy. What is a democracy, what are our rights? What is a government? What does the accountability of a government to people mean? and so on.

It isn't difficult to put these things in simple words anyone can understand. In fact, you could probably plagiarize a textbook non-voter kids study (quickly, before it changes) and voters have left far behind to recirculate the basics. There are ways to explain life affirming concepts through various mediums in ways anyone could understand. But it is a matter of doing it. It is not enough to call nationalism, fascism a primitive thought that cannot result in a stable country - the need of the hour is to explain why that is so. In simple words people understand. No government is going to pay for this education. Personal liberty means that we cannot have forced conscription of liberals to educate the masses either. So who will do it? And is it important enough for you to take it up voluntarily?

1

Where is the secular and liberal voice of India being lost? Why is India increasingly being toward paranoid insecurity over coexistence?

This trip to Delhi is turning out to be interesting. For that matter this whole past week has been interesting. The has been yet another flutter of panic in our oh so refined conscience about the appalling rise of BJP.

These moments come and go, I have seen. They are quite entertaining for the opportunity to make sarcastic tweets at something ugly. In terms of utility, they are pretty much meaningless, even counterproductive. Impotent outage by opponents is the true mark of victory to a cult of power.

Yeah, so a thug has found recognition. Or rather what is perceived as a new level of thug. So?

People are agitated. BJP has fooled the masses with fake news, polarising rumours and likely EVM rigging.

And this is news because...?

Can anyone honestly say that the BJP has done anything differently? All this was known. There were no indications that winning tactics would be dropped over some sudden discovery of ethics. So what is the new outrage?

Part of it is that we are unsettled by this rise. Mirza Waheed remarked on twitter "@Vidyut  Three years is all it's taken. It's chilling what how much the far right has achieved."

While i think it has been much longer than three years, what I said spontaneously then is my belief.


And yet it is not so simple. If, as Arundhati Roy famously put it, the middle and upper classes have seceded to the stratosphere, it is also true that the intellectuals have seceded to an intellectual stratosphere. Sadly, the financial stratosphere pays the bills, while the intellectual stratosphere can only form clubs of like minded people.

And of course, the vast majority of people has access to neither stratosphere.

The challenge for the intellectual elite today, is to learn to implement the egalitarianism they allegedly believe in.

How is it that they apparently have views that are empowering and progressive and yet primitive propaganda succeeds in pitting citizens against each other in what amounts to a tribal war conducted with votes? It cannot be that the right wing has extraordinary intelligence or communication skills. So where does the thinking fail? Is it really true that people would prefer an existence of paranoia and hostility over one of secure coexistence?

That doesn't sound right. After all, the basis of civilisation itself is a need for a guarantee of secure co-existence. The Hindu rashtra, with its model of every street thug ruling his own kingdom with impunity is not sustainable even if it grew unopposed and there was consensus on wanting a religious state. Yogi Adityanath is not an accident. He is the product of impunity being a norm.

But it will be a long time before such a model fails. Too long to be of relevance to the well-being of a county. This is recognised by the intellectual elite. But not by the masses.

So what are the missing parts? Where is secular thought falling to include the people it aims to include?

I have several views on this and will be blogging further to present them over coming months.

For now, I leave you readers with this question. Why is it that the fundamental principles of shared citizenship are being discarded so rapidly in favour of moves that disenfranchise a section of the population?

Make no mistake, the rules being broken get broken for the security of all -broken is broken- even though the temptation right now is the targeting of some.

2

Spent time on twitter after many days and it seems to be the day for absurd BJP quotes. Here are some of the ones that stay in mind.

The day after we hear that Chinese civilian nomads have pitched tents in Ladakh for over a week and are preventing work on an irrigation canal (in our territory) with the winter coming up we hear that the Modi (so vocal about criticizing lack of strong UPA2 responses to border violations) tweet "If I have to describe potential of India-China ties I will say — INCH (India & China) towards MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy)!"

Uma Bharati, charged with the development of the Ganga blames the Uttarakhand floods of last year on atheists crapping near the shrines. I suppose developing the Ganga can safely ignore mining by cronies now.

In other news, woman BJP MP from Matura Vrindavan, Hema Malini says the widows of Vrindavan have bank balances and good income but are used to begging. This is right after she found their living conditions appalling. The whole controversy is surreal. Hema Malini apparently doesn't have an issue with widows being abandoned as long as other states provide facilities where women can be abandoned instead of sending to her constituency. The Congress retort sees this as divisive without apparently seeing any problem with the practice of abandoning widows either. One of the shining gems of Indian politics, complete uselessness of Indian women politicians on women's issues and overall absurdity.

In still other news, Nalin Koli seems to attribute the by election performance of BJP on voter fatigue - he probably does not realize that he is saying people got tired of choosing BJP - so soon after choosing them.

On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath of the "love jihad" fame has this to say about BJP's miserable by poll result in UP "I was not allowed to campaign everywhere."

And of course there is a whole avalanche of bhakt and rent-a-troll tweets saying the exact opposite things about the by poll results that they would have said if the result were different.

All in all, a most entertaining day.

Dang. Son woke. Publishing this anyway. Add your favorite quotes in the comments and if they are recent, I'll add them to the post when I return.