DMK President MK Stalin on Thursday criticised the Tamil Nadu government for allegedly suppressing death figures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Leader of the Opposition demanded that Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami apologise for misleading people and denying dignity to those whose deaths were 'hidden'.
Stalin's statement comes following the state government's admission on Wednesday that 444 deaths were not factored into the death count in Chennai alone. A reconciliation process that was launched in June had exposed the gaps in recorded deaths.
"If there is a government that provides false data even on deaths, it has to be the Edappadi Palaniswami government. They delivered false promises of stopping the coronavirus infection in three days and 10 days but the number of persons who have died so far under the Palaniswami administration is 3144," Stalin stated in a video released on social media. "Till yesterday, the government claimed that 2700 persons had died but in just one day how did it increase to 3144? They have started telling us about the deaths they had hidden so far. They say that no matter how hard you try to hide a dead person, people will know in a week. But since it was the government hiding the deaths, they were able to hide it for two months. The government can't justify this no matter what they say, it is that horrible," he added.
The DMK chief stated that in the first week of June, news media reported that COVID-19 related deaths were not being recorded. But when he asked for an explanation for this he was allegedly accused of politicking.
"The Chief Minister kept harping about how the mortality rate in Tamil Nadu is low. He must be the first to use death count as an achievement. "The Chennai Corporation said on June 9 that 460 deaths were not recorded on June 9. But the Public Health Department said that there were only 236 people. So who are these 236 people who died? Of what disease did they die?The Chennai Corporation and DPH which are arms of the Tamil Nadu government, gave different figures. What can be more humiliating than this?" he asked in a video.
He further alleged that Health Secretaries, past and present, have hidden deaths fearing the Health Minister and Chief Minister.
"Don't test, don't record high numbers of infections and don't reveal death is the threat given by the Health Minister and Chief Minister to health authorities," alleged Stalin. "The government's announcement has proven that the Chief Minister's claims that deaths are not being hidden are untrue. The Chief Minister has to apologise to the people. He may have said several lies till now but this is playing with people's lives. Therefore, they need to apologise profusely. Since the spread began, the number of people who died and the dates they died must be given district wise. Only then we can believe this government is acting honestly," he added.
He further alleged that the government has shown no interest in stopping the deaths of COVID-19 patients and are more focussed on hiding the deaths.