Gujarat rejects report on Covid-19 deaths, calls it bid to create fear

Updated on May 16, 2021 01:27 AM IST

Minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja said at a press conference on Saturday morning, a day after the report by Divya Bhaskar, that it was “mischievous” to connect the number of deaths on the basis of death certificates with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state government has also not given an estimate on the annual average number of deaths in Gujarat during normal years.(Amal KS / HT Photo)
The state government has also not given an estimate on the annual average number of deaths in Gujarat during normal years.(Amal KS / HT Photo)
ByDarshan Desai, Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad

Twenty-four hours after a leading Gujarati daily reported that the government agencies gave away over 120,000 death certificates between March 1 and May 10, the state government issued a statement that the media was “creating wrong fears in the minds of people” and sensationalising the issue.

Minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja said at a press conference on Saturday morning, a day after the report by Divya Bhaskar, that it was “mischievous” to connect the number of deaths on the basis of death certificates with the Covid-19 pandemic.

An official press statement by the minister in English stated: “When there is a death of a person in the family, death certificate is required for the bank insurance, LIC and other services. In such circumstances, we have developed an online process so that family members can obtain certificates at home easily. Death certificates are issued for various reasons, so we can not ignore the possibility of more than one registration for a person sometimes. Therefore, there can be a difference in the figure of death certificates issued and the number of deaths. As death is a serious matter and involves many rituals, it is possible that people might not register it at the same time. The time of death, registration and issuing of certificate are three different aspects. All these 3 things combined together to show death figures and analysis in the print media report is totally inappropriate.”

Jadeja asserted, “When the number of cases is coming down, when the recovery rate is improving, the media should not create fears and panic among the people with such misleading reporting. Seeing the number of death certificates together with Covid-19 deaths is not presenting the right picture.”

The minister, however, did not refute the report about the number of death certificates. Divya Bhaskar reported that from March 1 to May 10 the state issued 120,000 death certificates, while the number was 58,000 during the corresponding period in 2020. As against this, the officially admitted Covid-19 deaths (between March 1 and May 10 this year) were 4,218 in Gujarat.

The state government has also not given an estimate on the annual average number of deaths in Gujarat during normal years.

In response to the government’s denial, Divya Bhaskar’s Gujarat editor Devendra Bhatnagar tweeted in Hindi: “We have given the source of our data. Tell us on what basis you are refuting us. Please add the bodies cremated, those reaching the cemeteries, the homage advertisements in the newspapers and bodies brought out in ambulances in hospitals, you will get the truth of the death certificate numbers.”

“The government! You will not tell the truth even now? These death numbers are from March to May 2021. If you can, make public the morbid and comorbid Covid-19 death numbers. The high court has also stated this,” Bhatnagar said.

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