A court in India on Tuesday said that deaths of Covid-19 patients due to lack of oxygen is a “criminal act and not less than a genocide," according to a judgement posted on the court's website.
The Allahabad High Court, which has jurisdiction over India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state, said, “Death of Covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen.”
A two-justice bench of the court made the remark during a hearing related to the Covid-19 crisis in Uttar Pradesh, which is among the worst-hit states in India's deadly second wave of the pandemic.
In a strong criticism of the Uttar Pradesh government’s handling of the crisis, the state’s top court cited videos showing hoarding of oxygen cylinders and harassment of poor people begging for an oxygen cylinder.
“We find these news items showing a quite contrary picture to one claimed by the (state) government that there was sufficient supply of oxygen,” the court stated.
It pointed out two specific stories of Covid-19 patients allegedly dying due to the lack of oxygen in the cities of Meerut and Lucknow, and directed the state government to take “immediate remedial measures" and ordered an inquiry into the two cases.
The state's government is yet to formally respond to the judgement.
The court also noted that the Covid-19 protocol and guidelines could have been flouted during the counting of votes in a local election held recently – and ordered the state’s election authorities to provide CCTV of the counting.