Police in India have arrested a 26-year-old man accused of rumour-mongering for tweeting that his dying grandfather needed oxygen in a cruel illustration of the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic in the South Asian nation.
Local police replied to the tweet and said that Shashank Yadav’s 88-year-old maternal grandfather had died of a heart attack Monday, not COVID-19, and did not need oxygen. Officers in Uttar Pradesh state charged Shashank Yadav with spreading a rumour over oxygen shortages “with intent to cause… fear or alarm”.
The MP of Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s worst-hit states Yogi Adityanath, who has been accused of downplaying the severity of the crisis claimed that none of the state’s hospitals lacked oxygen, although scenes have unfolded of an overwhelmed health system.
Cabinet minister Smiti Imrani, who is the MP for Amethi, was tagged – and responded later that evening saying she had tried to contact Yadav, and had alerted local officials. She has not commented since charges were pressed.
Yadav’s grandfather died on Monday night, apparently of a heart attack. Officials said he had not been suffering from Covid-19, but the circumstances around his death remain unclear.