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Mainstream, VOL LV No 37 New Delhi September 2, 2017

Gorakhpur Tragedy: Yogi Must Go!

Saturday 2 September 2017, by Humra Quraishi


Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Aditya-nath, should step down. In fact, he should be asked, if not forced and compelled, to resign. Let’s not overlook the fact that only recently over 60 children died in less than six days in the BRD Medical College situated in his constituency, Gorakhpur. A constituency he has been representing for the last nearly 20 years. Also, not to be overlooked is the fact that encephalitis didn’t strike overnight. Eastern Uttar Pradesh districts, which include Gorakhpur, have been reporting hundreds of encephalitis cases every year; in fact, if I am correct, the first case was reported way back in 1978.

What has Yogi Adityanath done for his Gorakhpur constituency all these years when he has been representing it? And now, what has he done, after becoming the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh? Apparently nothing very much, except indulging in plain politics! In fact, it’s been appalling to see him and his government indulge in blame-games, trying their utmost to come up with an array of excuses for these deaths. If the children did not die because of lack of oxygen, then how did they die? They died in the wards of that hospital, ever so swiftly, one after another!

And there you had Yogi sarkar’s spokes-persons come on the small screen with no apologies, no condolences, no acceptance of some hard-hitting facts. Not even taking the responsibility for those deaths! In fact, Siddharth Nath Singh, who happens to be a Minister in the Yogi sarkar and also works overtime as the spokes-person, was even seen smiling on the small screen in the midst of trying to put up weak excuses for those deaths! It was not just shameful but utterly callous. Those smiles uncalled for, in the midst of details to the dead and dying children! In fact, he went a step ahead and even tried ‘justifying’ those deaths by reading out numbers of the dead in the preceding months or years. As though relaying that it was okay ...all too normal for these deaths to take place; after all, children had been dying all through the years! And last night, as I heard another of Uttar Pradesh sarkar’s spokespersons, Anila Singh, writ large was sheer arrogance and that couldn’t-care-less attitude!

Along expected lines, blame has been heaped on the head of this medical college, Rajiv Mishra, and also on Dr Kafeel Ahmad Khan, head of the paediatrics ward. No, not a word to the various ‘whys’: why wasn’t sufficient oxygen available in the wards even after the concerned hospital authorities had been sending urgent messages to the babus in the Yogi sarkar for payment of arrears to the suppliers and also for the procurement of oxygen cylinders? Why haven’t erring bureaucratic heads sacked or suspended? Is it because there is a strong nexus between the politicians and bureaucrats of this sarkar? What about a deeper nexus between the Yogi sarkar with the Modi sarkar and the likes of Amit Shahs? Are we supposed to overlook the fact that the one of the first politicians to come to Yogi’s defence was Amit Shah? Are we a bunch of fools to get conned by useless weak excuses and alibis? Does the suspension and sacking of two doctors justified, when corruption is ram-pant in the State machinery, when distractions are dragged along communal strains? Did Yogi and any of his ministers or babus visit the shamshan-ghats and qabristans when the poverty- ridden grieving parents were performing the last rites of their children?

Yogi’s government is accountable for these deaths. Also for the callousness that followed ...ongoing. He should not manage to get away by hoodwinking the people, telling them that an inquiry is on! In fact, I simply dread the word ‘inquiry’, for to me it relays that crucial facts will be getting pushed under dusty carpets, as concocted theories and alibis get into circulation.

And in the midst of this tragedy Yogi also played up the religious card! In fact, almost ordering the policemen to celebrate Janamashthami in the police lines and stations and offices. As though relaying that the era of democratic norms is done and over with, where any religious celebrations and festivity to all given religions were to be celebrated more along the personal and private strain.

Also, how could he let go of the Muslims of the State! This time full-fledged orders had gone out that all the madrasas and other Islamic religious and educational institutions would have to record how they celebrated the Independence Day of our country!

Did Yogi send out a similar set of instructions to the various Ashrams or the RSS-run schools or even to the other regular schools of his State? Why did he single out only Muslim-run educational institutions? Does he and his government not trust the Musalmaans and their love for the country? Is he trying to question the very loyalty of the Indian Muslims? Is he trying to heap another round of divisions? Is he so caught up playing communal politics that he hasn’t bothered to hear Indian Muslims say that their loyalty cannot be questioned as seven decades back when they were given that option to cross over to the newly formed country, Pakistan, they did not. They did not want to. Yes, they opted to stay in their own country—Hindustan!

Mind you, the loyalty of the Muslims for this land, their country, is on for centuries.

Has Yogi read this verse of the last of the last Mughal Emperor of Hindustan-Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775—1862):

‘Ode to Hindustan/

Matchless is the soil of Hindustan/

In it grow love, compassion, fidelity/

As sure as the sun rises from the East/

So surges from this land sincerity.

This is the true seed of Hind and from its earth/
these fruits have spread across the world, far and wide’?

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