Kanpur Medical College Principal Calls Tablighi Members Terrorists. This is the Same Doc Who Said They Were Spitting on Staff


Kanpur Medical College Principal Calls Tablighi Members Terrorists. This is the Same Doc Who Said They Were Spitting on Staff

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

As India enters the list of top 10 countries with the highest number of Covid-19 cases around the world, a lingering air of communalism still persists around the pandemic in India. A video that is currently going viral on the internet features Dr Aarti Lalchandani, principal of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College in Kanpur, speaking to reporters where it appears that she is expressing a desire to see Covid-19 patients belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat removed from hospitals and placed into jails, dungeons, or even the jungle. She even calls them terrorists, saying that keeping them in isolation wards is exhausting resources.

The GVS Medical College is attached to the Lala Lajpat Rai (LLR) Hospital, where reports had emerged in April of members of the Jamaat demanding biryani, assaulting ward boys, spitting in the hospital premises, and causing a general disturbance that hampered the efforts of doctors, nurses, and medical staff in containing the coronavirus. The chief source for these reports in April was the very same Dr Lalchandani, who in the video currently doing the rounds seems to display a clear bias against patients from this community.

In the video, Dr Lalchandani seems to know that her remarks are controversial, as she asks the gathered journalists several times whether they are recording and tells them not to leak the footage. In addition to advocating that these “terrorists” be removed from isolation wards in the hospital and placed into solitary confinement in jails, she also at one point claims that the Uttar Pradesh government is following a policy of appeasement toward the members of Tablighi Jamaat, and should instead be sending them to dungeons, jungles, and jails.

In a report on the controversial video by The Hindu, Dr Lalchandani first claimed the video was “morphed”, before then switching to say that she had made those comments in frustration, and that it was over 70 days old and taken during the early days of the pandemic breaking out in India. She said, “I said it in anger and frustration. I didn’t issue any statement. I said this but in that circumstance.” The report also states that Dr Lalchandani plans to file an FIR against the reporter who filmed the video for blackmail and conducting a sting operation.

The doctor and educator’s words have gotten her into hot water, with many calling for her removal from her post as principal of a government-run medical college. The backlash is severe, as even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested that the pandemic not be given a communal colour after the initial wave of hate against the Tablighi Jamaat.

The consequences for Dr Lalchandani’s words are yet to come to pass, but the damage of communalising the coronavirus has already been done.