India Covid: Modi urged to handle crisis after Twitter removes virus posts

India: Patients waiting ‘hours’ to receive oxygen says expert

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People in India were outraged after the government allegedly ordered Twitter to remove posts which are critical of its handling of the pandemic. India is facing a massive surge in cases and deaths with many hospitals suffering with oxygen shortages.

On Tuesday night’s BBC Newsnight, former Twitter head in India Raheel Khursheed explained that Mr Modi’s government should be focusing on dealing with the crisis.

He said: “In a pandemic the Indian government should be concerning itself with diffusing the situation rather than diffusing the news of the situation.

“If there are people lining up outside crematoriums waiting for their turns for over 48 to 72 hours, what you should be busy figuring out is how to diffuse that situation.

“What you should be basically figuring out is how to get oxygen to hospitals.

“Hospitals in Delhi have had to come to Twitter and tag the Prime Minister himself for oxygen supplies.

“Instead of addressing those things, his government is busy taking down tweets.”

Mr Khursheed added how India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has given “immense powers” to crackdown on tweets it does not like.

He said: “It’s very typically a problem of someone basically having a hammer and every problem to that person looking like a nail.

“The BJP has modified India’s internet rules that gives authorities immense powers to basically send arbitrary orders to platforms like Twitter and others so they can have content that they simply do not like taken down.”

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BJP national spokesperson Gopal Agarwal told the BBC: “We cannot allow fake news that harms the country.”

However, several people in India have criticised the government for cracking down on posts which criticise its handling of the crisis.

One Twitter user, based in Delhi, posted: “The whole India is petrified, citizens are searching for emergency help, coordinating life support & trying to keep the government accountable, but the GOI, instead of saving lives, is bringing social media censorship. Condemnable!”

Professor Aftab Alam from the University of Delhi tweeted: “Because you know it’s easier to take down tweets than it is to ensure oxygen supplies.”

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, on Monday India recorded 323,023 new COVID-19 cases and 2,771 deaths related to the virus.

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