Harjit Singh Bhatti’s Twitter bio reads: “Ex-President, RDA AIIMS, New Delhi; National President, Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum; IMA Resident Doctor of The Year 2018”. This extravagant bio perhaps makes this individual a distinguished voice from the medical fraternity in India, for the media at least.
Just to mention it at the very outset, Bhatti is a Congress member, and also national convener of the Indian Youth Congress.
Congratulations Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti has been appointed as a national convener and doctors who have been appointed the State Coordinators of the All India Medical Cell.
We are confident you will help the people of our nation to the best of your abilities. pic.twitter.com/TGB0OSYr20
— Youth Congress (@IYC) February 15, 2019
‘Dr’. Harjit Bhatti has been quoted by various media outlets multiple times in the past as an authentic voice from the field with unparalleled medical expertise, when in fact, he is just a shoddy political activist masquerading as a doctor. In the latest mischief which the doctor has undertaken, his tweet claimed that personal protective equipment in India was in shortage and that hospitals did not have enough PPE’s.
I received calls from Assam Medical College that they have PPEs this was tested as what can be used if shortage occurs in case of huge load of patients. pic.twitter.com/scqEQFgNqm
— Harjit Singh Bhatti (@DrHarjitBhatti) March 23, 2020
This tweet was put out by him as a clarification after being exposed for lying and spreading panic across India. In an earlier tweet, which has been deleted, the man posted the same picture with the caption: “Pathetic situation. Healthcare workers in Assam are forced to cover themselves with plastic bags which is used to carry biomedical waste because of lack of PPE’s. Can PM Narendra carry take this issue seriously and provide #PPE’sBeforeApplause.”
The hashtag #PPE’sBeforeApplause has been used multiple times by the person to take a dig at the Modi government for the 5PM show of strength on Sunday which millions of Indians participated in.
Debunking Bhatti’s fake news, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “This tweet is highly motivated and some one must be doing purposefully. We have supplied good number of PPE kits in last 3 days. Police has been asked to register an FIR and investigate. I have personally in touch with hospital authorities”.
This tweet is highly motivated and some one must be doing purposefully. We have supplied good number of PPE kits in last 3 days. Police has been asked to register an FIR and investigate . I have personally in touch with hospital authorities https://t.co/c0xVRN5Y2G
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 23, 2020
A journalist with The Indian Express further informed that the news was fake, as confirmed by the Medical College itself.
— Abhishek Saha (@saha_abhi1990) March 23, 2020
Vinod Kapri, Rohini Singh and Vijaita Singh were among the few who endorsed the fake news by the motivated doctor.
— vijaita singh (@vijaita) March 23, 2020
The others have deleted their tweets.
Earlier, in January, during the annual JNU fiasco, Barkha Dutt had popularized the man as an expert in medicine and an ‘official voice’ from AIIMS, New Delhi. The ‘doctor’ had back then profiled the ABVP activists to have ‘superficial’, and presumably, artificial injuries. He was quoted by a media portal called Newslaundry. “Medically speaking, the injuries their activists allegedly sustained looked superficial. So, their claim seems questionable. Some alleged ABVP fellows with superficial injuries also got themselves admitted into the emergency and were making the other patients and doctors uncomfortable. Besides, when they sent ambulances from AIIMS to the JNU campus to bring the other injured, about 100 goons attacked the vehicle and the medical team inside it,” he had said.
It was then revealed that Bhatti was not a practicing doctor at AIIMS at all, and the alumni page of the institution said that he currently worked at Manipal Hospital, who again denied employing the man.
I just called up Manipal hospital in Delhi to check if there is a Dr Bhatti there as listed as his current job on the AIIMS website. Receptionist says no doctor by that name. Also checked website & no doctor by that name https://t.co/8Xg9XF9OLR pic.twitter.com/lDro6caLlB
— Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) January 6, 2020
Despite such glaring facts about the ‘doctor’, the media conveniently chooses to quote the man as a messiah of the medical fraternity in India. But again, motivated journalists quoting motivated doctors shouldn’t really come as a surprise.