The New Zealand High Commission had initially tagged the Youth Congress for help with an oxygen cylinder.

Indian Youth Congress volunteers at the NZ High Commission with oxygen cylinder
Coronavirus COVID-19 Sunday, May 02, 2021 - 12:20

As Delhi is facing a major crisis in procuring medical oxygen in the wake of a raging second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, social media has been inundated with urgent appeals from people across the capital begging for oxygen to treat friends and family suffering from COVID-19.  In the midst of this, was a tweet on May 2 from the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi putting out an SOS request. They urgently asked that someone help them get an oxygen cylinder. Like many on Twitter, they tagged the handles of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and its chief BV Srinivas in the hope of getting prompt help. But within minutes the tweet was deleted, which led many on social media to speculate whether the High Commission had removed the request because the Indian diplomatic establishment had intervened. 

An explanation soon followed from the New Zealand High Commission clarifying that they were trying all sources to arrange the oxygen cylinder and apologised if their earlier tweet had been misinterpreted. 

The High Commission said, “We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.” But reacting quickly, the Indian Youth Congress team of volunteers reached out to the New Zealand High Commission and arrived at their gates with an oxygen cylinder. Photos and videos of the team waiting for the  gates to be opened have been doing the rounds on social media.

Speaking to TNM, Srinivas said, “The New Zealand High Commission opened the gates and accepted cylinders from our SOS IYC team.”

This incident at the High Commission comes shortly after a war of words broke out between Jaishankar and Jairam Ramesh over the Youth Congress supplying oxygen cylinders to the Philippines Embassy. 

Jairam Ramesh thanked the IYC for their work but went on to ask if the MEA was sleeping. “While I thank @IYC for its stellar efforts, as an Indian citizen I’m stunned that the youth wing of the opposition party is attending to SOS calls from foreign embassies. Is the MEA sleeping @DrSJaishankar ?” he tweeted.

Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar, responded to the Congress leader, alleging that IYC was sending an "unsolicited supply" to the embassy.

 “MEA checked with the Philippines Embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases. Clearly for cheap publicity by you know who. Giving away cylinders like this when there are people in desperate need of oxygen is simply appalling," Jaishankar tweeted.

However, IYC tweeted proof that they had received requests for the cylinders. 

 “We got a request for an urgent requirement of Oxygen Cylinders for 2 Covid patients in Philippines Embassy. The Cylinders were delivered at the embassy on a much solicited request. Post delivery embassy thanked us on Facebook. All screenshots attached with names and number masked," IYC's official handle tweetedDelhi, Uttar Pradesh and many parts of the country including Bengaluru are facing a major shortage of oxygen supply and many are forced to run helter-skelter for adequate medical care. ICU, ventilator beds are getting harder to find and forcing people  to travel long distances to get medical help.

There have been tragic incidences of patients on critical care support dying in hospitals due to interruption in oxygen supply. Matters related to this issue are being heard by several High Courts of the country. Many states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka are on lockdown. 

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