The Wuhan virus pandemic has brought to light the best and the worst of the Indian media houses. On one end channels like WION through their brilliant investigative journalism has exposed the Chinese government and the WHO whereas on other hand channels like the NDTV and journalists like Barkha Dutt are peddling fake news in order to create panic among the citizens. However, leftist publication The Quint has managed to outsmart all the rags and came up with a grossly misleading article where an engineer has been turned into a doctor and been coronated as the convener of the ‘Task Force COVID-19 hospitals’ wherein reality no such task force exists. The rag published this article with the sole aim of spreading panic as it claimed that India has already entered the stage-3 of the pandemic.
The article written by Poonam Sharma who is the Editor-Investigation at The Quint, managed to create widespread panic as she claimed that India is already in the stage-3 of the pandemic where local-to-local transmission takes place and the virus spreads its deadly wings at a deadly pace. The article relies on the inputs of a certain Dr Girdhar Gyani who the website claims is the convener of the ‘Task Force COVID-19 hospitals’. However, no such task force exists. There is a task force of Public Health Experts for COVID-19 which comprises of 21 members of which Dr Gyani is not a a part of since he is not a medical doctor.
The author of the article, Poonam Sharma thought that Dr Gyani is medical doctor and based to his inputs, formed the basis of her article. Dr Gyani is an engineer and a PhD in Quality Management. He is currently the Director General of an NGO ‘Association of Healthcare Providers’.
Of course, lying about Dr Gyani’s position and profession wasn’t the only thing that the article did but also twisted Dr Gyani’s remarks to paint a rather grim picture of India’s situation. In Dr Gyani’s interview to The Quint, he stated that the country was already in the middle of stage-3 community transmission.
This was just the approval that The Quint was looking for as the author then proceeded to hit out at the government over the lack of medical facilities and its outdated policy on testing. The article further propagated the lie that Dr Gyani during a video conference of healthcare professionals with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had warned that India is running out of time and claimed that the Modi government is hiding the fact that India is already in stage-3.
The claim that Dr Gyani was present in a video conference meeting with the Prime Minister is also a contested claim as he certainly can’t be in a meeting with the Prime Minister of India as the convener of a task force which doesn’t exist! Now, the Prime Minister did interact with medical fraternity and not ‘healthcare professionals’ as by claimed the article on 24th March through a video conference. According to a Press Release, the PM interacted with the medical fraternity including doctors, nurses and lab technicians from all over the country via video conference. Dr Gyani certainly can’t be a part of the aforementioned video conference since he is not a medical doctor.
Unfortunately for The Quint, their attempt at spreading panic was short-lived as Dr Gyani himself slammed the article as speaking to ANI, he claimed that his comments were blown out of proportion by the publication. He clarified that, “luckily till today increase in the number of cases is pure arithmetic while in the community spread (stage-3) its goes geometrically or exponentially”.
Dr Gyani’s NGO too slammed the article for attempting to create confusion and spread panic by twisting Dr Gyani’s statements. The NGO further stated that the government is fully prepared and the lockdown is helping in containing the spread of the virus. The NGO’s statement directly contradicts the article which quotes Dr Gyani as he claims that the government is not prepared and doesn’t have enough testing kits.
After receiving tremendous backlash for a grossly misleading article, The Quint cleverly changed the headline from “India is now in stage 3 — community transmission” to “India May be in Stage 3: COVID-19 Hospital Task Force Convener”. However, even in the edited headline they continue to address Dr Gyani as the convener of the Hospital task force which only exists in the imagination of the author.
While in the article they have removed the line which claims that Dr Gyani is a convener of COVID task force, they continue to lie that he was a part of the video conference meeting with the Prime Minister without giving any proof. The toned down article continues to lie that the government is not prepared despite Dr Gyani’s NGO claiming the contrary.
The author of the misleading article, Poonam Sharma made a name for herself in the infamous ‘sahayak’ sting video which resulted in the suicide of Lance Naik Roy Mathew. Such ‘journalists’ and electronic publications are a blot on the nation who’s sole aim is to spread panic among the citizens.