Even as India enters a relaxed state of lockdown, the threat of coronavirus is very real. Frontline health workers around the world are being applauded for their efforts in treating coronavirus patients by putting their lives at risk. But a small group of the community could tarnish the efforts of many. In a shocking revelation, a Rajasthan hospital staff's WhatsApp group chats were leaked online to reveal anti-Muslim remarks made by the workers in wake of COVID-19.
A case has been registered against the staff and an investigation is underway. According to the police, two women working at Srichand Baradiya Rog Nidan Kendra, a private orthopaedic hospital in Sardarshahar in Churu city had exchanged messages on WhatsApp that target the minority community. The screenshots of the conversation between the hospital staff were widely circulated, and the police intervened. An FIR has been lodged against the accused under Section 153A (attack upon any religion) and 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) among other sections under DM Act.
Discriminatory remarks against Muslims by hospital staff
The screenshots of the chats showed discriminatory remarks made by the hospital staff against Muslim patients suffering from COVID-19. The accused include a doctor and a lab technician. Shockingly, one of the participants in the alleged chat group was wife of Dr Sunil Choudhary, who runs the hospital.
Some of the leaked messages are:
Stop attending to Muslim patients all together," one individual said.
Had Hindus been positive and the doctor was Muslim, he would never have attended to Hindus. I will not attend to Muslims in the Outpatient Department. Tell them Madam is not in," said another participant.
I take oath that from tomorrow we will not do X-ray of Muslim patients," one of the messages read.
Indian Express sought a response from Dr Bhagwati Choudhary, wife of Dr Sunil Choudhary, and she denied that the hospital had stopped treatment to Muslim patients. In response to the serious allegations, Dr Sunil Choudhary said the screenshots were nearly two months old and the ground reality at the hospital has no relation to what the messages depicted.
"Even during that time of widespread fear, I was providing 24-hour healthcare facilities to everyone. We have never discriminated against anyone on the basis of their religion or caste. I have also spoken with the community members who made the complaint. The issue shouldn't be politicised and doctors should not be punished without any reason," Dr Choudhary told Indian Express.
The doctor also apologised and assured that there won't be another instance.