Last month, on April 30, India became the first country in the world to record more than four lakh COVID-19 cases in a day. Several reports have claimed that the number of cases and fatalities is much higher than what is being officially showed by state governments. Reports also claimed that many states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh are hiding the official COVID-19 data. And, are deliberately reducing the test to show that infections are falling.
The four lakh spike in cases came months after health officials and experts warned the government that India will not be able to face even two lakh cases in a day if we failed to increase basic needs like ICU beds along and oxygen cylinders in hospitals.
This is the official data shown on government websites. However, media reports are claiming different numbers, and the unofficial data reveals a different picture.
On May 2, with more than 3.68 lakh cases, India saw the biggest single-day drop in COVID-19 cases since the second wave of the outbreak began in early March. It happened because only 15 lakh samples were tested compared to nearly 20 lakh daily tests on normal days. The government indeed reduces testing as cases arise.
In Madhya Pradesh, a leading Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, while showing the photos of the crematorium on the front page on April 16, slammed the government and wrote: “These burning pyres are telling the truth”. The newspaper said that the government’s data on deaths is a fraud, claiming that capital Bhopal had seen 112 deaths but official data showed only four fatalities.
According to NDTV, on April 8, more than 40 cremated only in Bhopal under the COVID protocols but official data claimed that only 27 deaths took place across the state. While on April 9, 35 bodies arrived at cremation grounds in the capital Bhopal but again government said that 23 fatalities happened in the state due to COVID-19.
Another report claimed that on April 21, Bhopal had seen a total of 187 deaths of which 137 were COVID patients, yet government official data showed only four deaths in the capital.
Gujarat is also hiding the COVID-related data to show that everything is under control. ‘Sandesh’, a leading Gujarati newspaper, reported that more than 60 bodies were come out from Ahmedabad’s government hospital on April 13 but official data declared only four deaths in the city due to COVID-19.
Citing The Hindu’s report, Congress veteran P Chidambaram quoted, “While Gujarat officially reported 78 Covid-caused deaths on Friday (17th April), the HINDU reported that 689 bodies were cremated in 7 cities alone following the Covid protocol”
On April 12, official data showed that with zero COVID-19 related death, Jamnagar reported only one case but the local media said a different story of the city. Dismissing the government’s claim, a local Gujarati digital website ‘Khabar Gujarat’ claimed that more than 50 died in Jamnagar on the same day.
The gap between the official data and the actual number of deaths is also widening in BJP-ruled state Haryana. According to reports, the total number of COVID-19-related deaths recorded by the government in April is three times lower than those figures claimed by crematoriums.
In Panipat, on May 2, the daily health bulletin said that nine people died due to COVID-19 but the actual figure claimed that 14 were cremated in the city’s different crematorium sites.
Lucknow and Kanpur are the worst-hit cities in India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh where people are struggling to get oxygen cylinders, ICU beds, and basic medicines. Uttar Pradesh government is not only hiding COVID-19 related figures but also making punishable offences for taking pictures and videos at the cremation grounds. The state government also built temporary iron walls around the crematorium sites to hide mounting deaths.
NDTV reported that capital Lucknow recorded 59 fatalities due to COVID-19 but official data showed just 23 deaths on April 10. While, on April 12, at least 86 deaths were cremated but the official toll was just 21. The next day, on 13 April, the government said only 18 people were died due to a deadly virus but the report claimed that 86 bodies were cremated in Lucknow.
The picture of Kanpur city is also grim in terms of handling the COVID-19 crisis by the state government. According to PTI, the city had cremated over 460 people from April 19 to April 24 but the government said that only 66 people died in the entire district.
Agra, Jhansi, Bareilly, Ghaziabad, and PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi have the same stories of underreporting of deaths and fudging of data.
Meanwhile, Allahabad High Court on May 4 hit out at state authorities and said that the death of COVID patients due to lack of oxygen is not less than a genocide. The court also asked DMs to submit the COVID-19 death report within 48 hours.