By: Pramod Thomas
As the deadly second wave of Covid-19 grips the western state of Gujarat, the obituary columns of local newspapers in the state are becoming longer with each passing day.
The Saurashtra Bhaskars daily’s Bhavnagar edition on Thursday (6) set aside eight of its 16 pages for obituary notices.
The burgeoning death notices reaffirms that the number of cases and casualties are being underreported, reports said.
Saurashtra Bhaskar carried 238 obituaries on Thursday, a quantum jump from just 28 two months back on March 6.
Another leading Gujarati newspaper Sandesh says 12 coronavirus patients died on Wednesday (5) in the Kheda district, while the state government data says only two Covid-19 patients died in Kheda on Wednesday.
Similarly, the Gujarat Samachar daily says 25 coronavirus patients died on Wednesday in Gandhinagar, a sharp contrast to the Gujarat governments claim that no one died due to the virus in Gandhinagar on Wednesday.
Opposition Congress claims that the BJP government in Gujarat is under-reporting coronavirus cases to mask the real death count due to the pandemic.
“The Vijay Rupani-led government in the state is suppressing coronavirus death figures to hide the reality from the people,” state congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.
“The BJP government is hiding the actual death figures to cover up their failures in handling the pandemic. In many villages, the daily death toll is in double figures while the government data shows single figures for the entire district.”
Countering the allegations, the state government said that if a coronavirus patient with comorbidities dies, his death may not be attributed to the viral infection.
As per the state government data released on Wednesday, Gujarat recorded 133 deaths due to Covid-19 during the preceding 24 hours.
This data is in stark contrast with the 141 obituaries published in two major Gujarati language newspapers.
The Gujarat high court on Wednesday (5) said the steps taken by the state government to contain the spread of Covid- 19 were not enough and further restrictions need to be imposed while keeping in mind people’s welfare.
Gujarat government on Wednesday (5) reported 12,955 new coronavirus positive cases in the state even as 12,995 people recovered from the infection and 133 Covid-19 patients died.
With this, the overall Covid-19 tally in Gujarat rose to 6,33,427 and the toll to 7,912, the health department said.