A high level CPIML team recently visited many Districts in Bihar. The team comprised Politburo member Kavita Krishnan, Samkaleen Lokyudh Editor Santosh Sahar and Arun Kumar. The team began its journey on 7 July 2021 with a visit to Pavna village in Bhojpur District. In the course of the next few days the team visited Pasaur (Charpokhri, Bhojpur), Ghusian Kala and Salempur Pokhra (Vikramganj, Rohtas), Bihta (Tarari, Bhojpur), Abgila and Peur (Sahar, Bhojpur), Motha, Sakri and Prasadi English (Arwal), Bhedria English and Ankuri (Paliganj, Patna), Puraina, Chakia and Shekhpura (Punpun, Patna), Nagwan (Phulwari, Patna), Jaijor (Aandar, Siwan), Daraili Mathia (Darauli, Siwan), Kelharua, Kalyani, Damodra, Cheetakhal and Koharbalia (Guthni, Siwan), Mairwa and Imlauli (Mairwa, Siwan), Hathauji (Nautan, Siwan), Chhotka Manjha and Pathar (Jeeradei, Siwan) and other villages.
The team took cognizance of the Covid deaths that occurred in these villages from April 2021 till date, spoke to family members of the dead, recorded their statements, and made video recordings.
The CPIML team found the following facts:
- The government statistics of Covid deaths are not the correct numbers. The real numbers are 20 to 25 times more than what the government statistics show. The illness of most of the dead started with cold, cough and fever, and progressed with great difficulty in breathing, after which death occurred within 2 or 3 days.
- Very few people were able to reach hospitals. A considerable number died on the way to hospital or immediately on reaching hospital. Many people avoided government hospitals due to their decrepit condition, shortage of oxygen and other treatment, fear of quarantine, and fear that the family would not be given the body in case of death. Many poor people could not reach hospital or get proper treatment due to lack of money.
- Most of the people were treated by rural doctors. Generally there are no treatment facilities available in Panchayat level health sub-centres. Oxygen was not available even in Block level Primary Health Centres and Additional Health Centres. Ambulance facilities were also very poor.
- Government hospitals refused admission to patients citing shortage of beds and oxygen. People had to take refuge in private hospitals, where they had to pay through the nose. The average expenditure was Rs 1.5 to 2 lakhs. In some cases the expenditure reached as high as Rs 10 to 12 lakhs. There are several families that are bowed down with the burden of heavy debt.
- Most patients with Covid symptoms were not tested for Covid. They did not get Antigen, RT-PCR or other test facilities at hospitals. Also, despite having Covid symptoms and dying of them, many people's test reports were negative.
- Many Covid patients in hospitals were labelled as typhoid patients and treated for typhoid. The hospital papers make no mention of the cause of death. We also found family members of some of the dead who destroyed, burnt, or threw away the hospital papers.
- Some people have applied for the compensation announced by the government. Only a very few have so far got this compensation. The government needs to make significant changes in the compensation policy so that families of all the victims can get compensation.
- Most of the dead were sole earning members in their homes. Also, some of the aged victims were pensioners and the whole family depended upon the pension for sustenance. All of them should get immediate compensation in view of medical expenses and burden of debt.
- Family members of the dead, especially women and men who have lost their spouses, are living under heavy depression. On speaking to them, we felt that they no longer want to remain alive. The government and society needs to be sensitive and empathetic in such cases.
- The team found that despite more than a year having passed since Covid appeared, there are all kinds of misconceptions among people. The importance of wearing masks, washing hands, and awareness of preventive medicines has not at all percolated to ground level. Fear of vaccination is also very much present. A big reason for this is lack of confidence in the Modi-Nitish governments. However, we found that this fear is gradually decreasing and now there are people who want to get vaccinated but the government has failed to make vaccines available to them.
Campaign to Demand Compensation to Covid Victims’ Families
Speaking at a press conference in Patna, CPIML Bihar State Secretary Kunal said that the party organized Block level programs on 15 July to demand compensation for Covid victims. Collective applications for compensation will be filed at Block level. On 24 July memorandums will be submitted to in-charges of all Block level hospitals demanding improvement in hospital conditions. CPIML is organizing a long-term campaign on 'A healthy Bihar is our right' to improve health conditions in Bihar.
Block Level Applications Submitted for Covid Death Compensation
Applications regarding Covid death compensation were submitted under the CPIML banner on 15 July 2021 at Block HQs in Bihar, demanding Rs 4 lakhs compensation without delay for the families of every death in the Covid era. CPIML State Secretary Kunal said that the application submission program demanding compensation has been fully successful. The Bihar government should immediately take cognizance of this and arrange for the compensation amount. Covid, lockdown, and inflation have proved back-breaking for the people. This compensation amount is very important in order to enable people ruined by the 2nd wave of Covid to re-start their lives.
The application submission program was carried out at most Blocks in various Districts including Arwal, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Eastern Champaran, Siwan, Gopalganj, Jehanabad, Gaya and Buxar.
CPIML is collecting statistics of deaths that occurred across Bihar
It is to be noted that CPIML is collecting statistics of deaths that occurred across Bihar between 1 April and 31 May during the 2nd wave of Covid. According to this report, the actual death toll in the state is 20 to 25 times greater than the numbers shown in government data. Only a few families have received the compensation amount so far. Therefore the CPIML is getting people to submit applications for the compensation amount.
CPIML has prepared a list of all the people who died of Covid-like symptoms. Since there were no testing facilities in the villages, most of the people never got tested. CPIML MLAs and other people's representatives said that such deaths should be counted as Covid deaths and demanded compensation for them.
The CPIML legislative party also said that this matter will be raised strongly in the coming Assembly session starting on 26 July.
Condolence Meets in Memory of Covid Victims
Under the 'Count Every Death, Share Every Sorrow' campaign 'in Memory of Loved Ones' the Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees Union (Gope Group), Bihar State Karyapalak Sahayak Sewa Sangh and ITI Employees Union organized a memorial meeting in front of Vishveshwaraiyya Bhawan at Bailey Road.
Leaders of all three organizations including Rambali Prasad, Premchand Kumar Sinha, Ranvijay Kumar, Nawal Kishore Sah, Vimal Prakash, Ashish Kumar, Shashikant Pathak, Manoj Kumar Yadav, Avinash Pathak, Suryavanshi Singh, Krishnanandan Singh and Niranjan Kumar Sinha attended the memorial meeting.
The meeting began with a minutes' silence for all those who died during Covid times. Leaders who spoke at the meeting said that the Modi and Nitish governments failed to provide medical treatment to the living, and are now busy hiding the count of the dead. They demanded revamping of the government health system and filling of all vacant posts of doctors, nurses and medical staff in order to cope with a likely 3rd wave of Covid.
The 'Apnon ki Yaad' program in Ranchi
The 'Apnon ki Yaad' ('in Memory of Loved Ones') program in Ranchi on Sunday 18 July was dedicated to the memory of Fr Stan Swamy. Fr Stan's co-workers, social activists and CPIML leaders lit candles and observed 2 minutes' silence at the party state office to pay tribute to Fr Stan and all those who lost their lives in the Covid period. Addressing the meeting in memory of Covid pandemic victims, speakers said that the central government's decrepit health system is responsible for all the deaths due to Covid, including Fr Stan Swamy's death. Privatization of health services and governmental mismanagement are mainly responsible for this. A 5-point memorandum was submitted to the Governor, demanding a judicial enquiry into the arrest of 84 year old Fr Stan Swamy and his death due to lack of life-saving facilities, and punishment for the guilty; release of all human rights and political prisoners incarcerated in jails across the country including Jharkhand; repeal of draconian laws like UAPA; and status of martyr to Fr Stan Swamy.
Present at the memorial program were CPIML State Secretary Janardan Prasad, CC member Shubhendu Sen, District Secretary Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, City Secretary Nandita Bhattacharya, Bhim Sahu, Pushkar Mahto, Varun Kumar, Noreen, Tarun Kumar, Shanti Sen, Eti Tirkey, Alok Kumar, Sonali and others.