Prime Minister Narendra Modi's actions in attempting to stifle criticism during the COVID-19 crisis in India are inexcusable, international medical journal The Lancet said in an editorial on Saturday.
The article titled 'India's COVID-19 emergency' said that the scenes of suffering in India are hard to comprehend. This comes as India witnesses a massive surge in coronavirus cases, with over 400,000 daily infections reported in the past two days.
The Lancet editorial, highly critical about the central government's policies, added that the success of India's fight against the deadly pandemic depends on PM Modi's administration "owning up to its mistakes".
It also mentioned the shortage of medical oxygen, hospital beds, and other necessities in the country, which both doctors and the public are seeking right now.
"India squandered its early successes in controlling COVID-19. Until April, the government's COVID-19 task force had not met in months. The consequences of that decision are clear before us, and India must now restructure its response while the crisis rages," the article said.
Calling out the mass gathering in Kumbh Mela and huge election rallies during the state assembly polls, which drew crowds of millions around the nation, The Lancet said that the government gave green light to these events despite warnings about the risks of superspreader events.
The journal also dubbed India's vaccination plan "botched", adding that it is "falling apart" at the central level. "The government abruptly shifted course without discussing the change in policy with states, expanding vaccination to everyone older than 18 years, draining supplies, and creating mass confusion and a market for vaccine doses in which states and hospital systems competed," it said.
Amid the reports that the Centre asked Twitter to remove tweets mostly criticising its pandemic handling, The Lancet said, "At times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has seemed more intent on removing criticism on Twitter than trying to control the pandemic."
India will see a staggering 1 million deaths from COVID-19 by Aug 1, the article said citing The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's forecast.