New Delhi: The Congress released a documentary film on Saturday on Rahul Gandhi's interaction with a group of migrant labourers last week, demanding justice for such workers who are walking hundreds of kilometres to their homes amid the coronavirus lockdown.
At the end of the documentary, Gandhi says the government should immediately give Rs 7,500 to the 13 crore needy families through direct cash transfer.
The documentary captures the pain and helplessness the migrant labourers and their families are feeling, as they long to return to their villages after losing their means of livelihood in cities due to the lockdown over the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Gandhi had interacted with a group of migrant labourers near the Sukhdev Vihar flyover in Delhi last Saturday and asked them about their problems as they walked home amid the lockdown.
In an over 16-minute documentary capturing this interaction, Gandhi says that coronavirus has hurt a lot of people, but it has hit the migrant labourers the most.
Gandhi, dressed in black pants and a white kurta, is seen sitting on the pavement and giving the migrant workers a patient hearing while assuring them of all help so that they reach their destination safely.
In the meeting with the group of 20 migrants, including women and children, walking from their work site near Ambala to their village in Jhansi, Gandhi is heard asking them about the problems faced by them due to the sudden announcement of the lockdown and the loss of livelihood.
The migrant labourers also allege that people threatened to beat them in Haryana if they went out of the house.
The documentary also shows Rahul Gandhi promising help and subsequently they being transported to their village near Jhansi in vans and cars.
Upon reaching their homes, the migrant labourers and their families thank Gandhi for his help.
At the end of the documentary, Gandhi's voiceover is heard saying: "My migrant labourer brothers and sisters, you are the strength of this country."
"You take the entire burden of this country on your shoulders. The whole country wants justice for you. It is everyone's responsibility to strengthen the power of this country," Gandhi says in the documentary.
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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: