Yogi Adityanath govt hid COVID death figures in UP: Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday sad if voted to power in the coming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, his government will carry out an audit of COVID-19 management and take stringent action against officials for allegedly concealing data related to deaths.

He accused the BJP-led state government of hiding COVID-19 death figures and claimed that it hid data as it did not want to help the people.

"After the assembly elections in the state, and the formation of the SP government, an audit (of COVID-19 management) will be done, and officials who had concealed information will face stringent action.

"Officials who had breached their limits, their list has been prepared. In the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a time when it was felt that there was no government in UP. People were left to their fate," Yadav said.

Assembly elections are scheduled to take place in Uttar Pradesh next year.

"The government did not give the statistics pertaining to the COVID-19 deaths, nor any help was given to them (victims). They (UP government) did not give the statistics of COVID-19 deaths, as they did not want to help (the people)," Yadav told reporters.

The SP chief also alleged that people had to struggle to arrange medicines for coronavirus patients.

Medicines were black marketed, people did not get beds and they had run from one place to another for oxygen, he said.

"A number of lives were lost. If anybody is responsible for this, it is the BJP government," the former chief minister said.

He also talked about the issue of teachers who allegedly died during panchayat poll duties in the state.

"When the teachers went on (panchayat poll) duty, it was said that only three teachers died (on poll duty due to COVID-19). Later, when organisations and we raised questions, the government had to admit that actually how many lives were lost," he said.

A teachers' body had earlier claimed that over 1,600 teachers and workers of the Basic Education Department have died in Uttar Pradesh since the first week of April due to COVID-19, and said that 90 percent of them were on panchayat polls duty.

However, Satish Chandra Dwivedi, the UP minister of state (independent charge) for Basic Education, had said all these deaths cannot be attributed to election duty. According to government data, only three teachers had died due to COVID-19, he had said.

On May 31, the UP Cabinet had approved financial assistance of Rs 30 lakh for the kin of government personnel who died on duty during the recently-held panchayat elections, including those who succumbed to COVID-19 within 30 days of poll duty, an official spokesperson had said.

The Cabinet had also approved increasing the ex-gratia amount from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 30 lakh.

"The duration of duty as defined by the Election Commission of India was the basis on which the State Election Commission had formed the guidelines, in which the duration of COVID-19 infection and death was not considered.

"Hence, for the ex-gratia, death due to COVID-19 within 30 days from election duty has been made the eligibility criteria," a state government spokesperson had said.

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