India has set a new daily coronavirus death record and ranks second globally by the number of people infected after the USA (jhu.edu). The total number of coronavirus cases in India has exceeded 21 million people (times of India), although healthcare experts warn that the actual toll might be far higher. Despite these figures and the chilling publications about how the dead get cremated, India is in no hurry to announce a lockdown. Until recently, the government has been organizing crowded election rallies, even proclaiming that India has triumphed over the coronavirus. The people of India are desperate and keep searching for the answer to an urgent question: who is to blame?
Madhu Patel, 43, a housewife based in India’s capital New Delhi, shared her story, revealing why she was forced to actively criticize government inaction in the face of the pandemic.
“On the night of April 25, my husband died in our car, literally in my arms, for lack of oxygen. We were stuck in a huge line, trying to get into the hospital. A few days before, my husband had gotten sick: he was having all the coronavirus symptoms, a violent cough, a fever, and then he started gasping for breath because he was not getting enough oxygen. We instantly headed to the hospital, trying to find a bed, but there were no free beds anywhere. My husband’s condition kept getting worse and worse, I was asking for help from anyone I could, but no one managed to help me. We spent the whole time in our car, trying to get from one hospital to the next. My husband was lying in the back seat, out of breath, choking for air, and died sometime afterwards, before he could get any help.”
The locals run out of time as they try to reach a hospital; they are forced to wait until help arrives and often die in the endless lines, in their cars, or on the pavement. There is not enough medical equipment, oxygen for artificial pulmonary ventilation, and other supplies for everyone catastrophically. To at least somehow help their dying loved ones, families are purchasing oxygen masks and tanks, as well as medication, in the black market for enormous sums of money, even though there are waiting for lines there as well.
“It’s impossible to describe the horrors that are happening here. There is nothing but death all around. I tried to buy an oxygen tank on the black market, but they are selling it for simply extortionate prices. I got the money, but they told me that I could only pick up the oxygen the next day. So in the end, it was too late. Our government is not doing anything. The people are trying to save themselves on their own. I don’t know what to expect now, all we can do is accept our fate. We are not feeling protected at all, they are just tossing us into the flames instead of firewood, turning us to ash,” said Madhu.
The hospitals are overflowing, and the crematoria are at total capacity. There is not enough room here either, so people are forced to build funeral pyres right in the streets and other open spaces. They cannot give their loved ones a peaceful burial and are forced to endure enormous waiting lines. All of this is painting a bloodcurdling picture of the disaster.
Delhi resident Ritesh Nigam said, “I help crematorium workers build additional platforms for funeral pyres. We are building them anywhere we can make room. The dead bodies are literally everywhere, and we have to burn them in the streets, day and night. We keep choking on the smoke and ash. It feels like there is a war.”
The scope of the tragedy is further fuelled by the increasing amount of messages in mass and social media, where the desperate people of India criticize their government for not doing anything to fight the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has allowed Hindu festivals and election rallies, disregarding the experts’ warning about a new disease outbreak.
As the number of coronavirus cases continues soaring rapidly, the government has decided to delete any critical social media posts, claiming that they hinder efficient counter-pandemic efforts and sowing panic.
“The most horrible thing is that the critical oxygen shortage was evident back in April 2020. So why has no one done anything about it, especially knowing about the new COVID-19 outbreak? I do not understand why the government has eased the quarantine restrictions and allowed people to attend mass gatherings. Mr Modi is probably benefitting from this, as he never stopped his election rallies. After all, what matters the most in the campaign. Who cares that countless people are going to die? Now, the public healthcare crisis has turned political. The people won’t keep quiet any longer,” said Ritesh.