Kolkata: The death toll due to Cyclone Amphan in West Bengal has risen to 85, as angry Kolkatans resorted to protest and road blockades in various parts of the city over the administration's failure to restore normalcy even after three days.
With normal life thrown out of gear by the region's worst weather disasters, the authorities scrambled in various parts of the state to restore normalcy.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to visit Cyclone Amphan hit South 24 Parganas district on Saturday and take stock of the situation.
Lakhs of people were rendered homeless as Cyclone Amphan cut a path of destruction through half-a-dozen districts of the state on Wednesday, flattening houses, uprooting thousands of trees and swamping low-lying areas.
According to official sources, around 1.5 crore people of the state have been directly affected and more than 10 lakh houses destroyed due to the cyclone.
Although electricity and mobile connection were restored in some parts of Kolkata, and North and South 24 Parganas districts, many areas continued to remain in darkness as power poles had been blown away and communication lines snapped.
Several roads and houses in Kolkata, Howrah, and North and South 24 Parganas districts continue to remain waterlogged, as hapless citizens came out on the streets against the administration's "apathy and ineffectiveness".
People in various parts of Kolkata staged protests and blockades since Friday night demanding immediate resumption of power and water supply, three days after Amphan ravaged the state.
Firhad Hakim, chairman of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation board of administrators, assured the people that normalcy would be restored in a week, as government officials were working round the clock to improve the situation.
"More than 5,000 trees have been uprooted. We have already cleared several roads," Hakim said. "We are in touch with the private power supply provider and had asked them to restore supply as early as possible."
In Kakdwip area of South 24 Parganas district, people complained that they were not given enough tarpaulin sheets to cover the roofs of houses damaged by the cyclone.
In Hingalganj block of North 24 Parganas, people claimed they were running out of food, as shops in the vicinity were yet to lift shutters in the aftermath of the calamity.
"The entire area is underwater and we are out of food for the last three days. We are yet to get any relief," said Geeta Mahali, a resident of the area.
Several relief camps have come up in the districts, where hapless people have queued up for two squares of meal and shelter after their homes being either blown or washed away.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Relief Force have been working on a war-footing to clear the roads blocked by the uprooted trees.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flew down to Kolkata on Friday and undertook an aerial survey of the cyclone-hit areas along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Lauding the efforts of the state government in combating the crisis, Modi announced an advance assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for the state.
Let the Truth be known. If you read VB and like VB, please be a VB Supporter and Help us deliver the Truth to one and all.
Around June 1, a five-minute video of an interview of a woman recorded in the style of an exposé went viral. The woman appears to be an office-bearer and is sitting behind a desk. She says, “These people are terrorists and we are giving them VIP treatment… we are exhausting our resources on them, getting our doctors ill for them…we are using 100 test kits per day on them, if they didn’t exist we wouldn’t need the kits… these people should be hit and kept in solitary confinement… Can’t Yogi ji give an order that state’s resources won’t be used on them.. we are sacrificing Rs 100 crores of the nation for these 20 crores.” The population of Muslims in India is approximately 20 crores.
A mic with the logo of ‘News इंडिया 1’ can be seen in the video. The interviewers behind the camera are trying to gain an official statement from the woman for their news bulletin. As per social media claims, the woman being interviewed is Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College, Kanpur.
The social media claims are true. The person in the video is indeed Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College in Kanpur. On June 1, several media outlets published a report about the viral video including The Hindu and The Indian Express.
According to The Hindu, “Lalchandani first said that the video was “morphed” and that she did not refer to any community or target Muslims. But in the same breath, she also admitted that she made the comments as a vent during the initial days of the COVID-19 crisis in Kanpur.”
She told both the publications that the local journalist who leaked the video tried to blackmail her and extort administrative favors. However, speaking with Alt News, Lalchandani said that she wasn’t aware of the clip’s existence until it became viral on social media. It is unclear how she could possibly be blackmailed over something that wasn’t in her notice. Moreover, she was unable to provide any evidence of the same.
Omar Rashid, the journalist who wrote the report for The Hindu, tweeted that Lalchandani told the outlet that she had made the comments in anger.
The principal of Kanpur Medical College Arati Lalchandani allegedly calls Tablighi Jamaat members terrorists, says they should be sent to dungeons, jungles & solitary confinement rather than being treated in isolation wards. She told @the_hindu that she made the comment in anger pic.twitter.com/vfM2tVnTaV— Omar Rashid (@omar7rashid) May 31, 2020
In her statement that was sent over WhatsApp, Lalchandani wrote, “THESE ARE NOT MY STATEMENTS GIVEN TO MEDIA but a malicious sting and do not reflect my inner feelings.” She added, “Even a mother in her anger says go to hell to her own children. And then hugs them the next moment. My actions have always spoken louder than words and will continue to do so. I shall continue serving you all and you can always send to me anyone in need. I work 24 hours for you.”
It is pertinent to note that Lalchandani did not apologize for the racist comments.
Therefore the social media claim associated with the video is true. Aarti Lalchandani, the principal of GVSM Medical College in Kanpur, indeed made derogatory remarks against Tablighi Jamaat members and the Muslim community. She said the country should put them behind bars instead of spending money and resources for their treatment.
Here's her Facebook post: