Amid reports of patients and hospitals struggling to find and maintain oxygen supply, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked officials to take action under the National Security Act and seize the property of individuals who spread “rumours” and propaganda on social media and try to “spoil the atmosphere”.
Mr. Adityanath asserted that there was no shortage of oxygen supply in any COVID-19 hospital – private or government-run – but that the actual problem was blackmarketing and hoarding.
He made the statement in a video conferencing with select journalists on Saturday evening, as per a government spokesperson.
Earlier, Mr. Adityanath, in a high-level meeting with officials, directed them to take action under the NSA and the Gangsters Act against “anti-social elements” involved in “blackmarketing” of medicine, spreading rumours and trying to spoil the atmosphere.
In his interaction with the journalists, Mr. Adityanath referred to a private hospital which had reported a shortage of oxygen two days ago. Upon checking, it was found that the hospital had sufficient oxygen, he claimed.
“Due to such people, fear is increasing among the public. Even those who don’t need it, are worried about oxygen cylinders,” Mr. Adityanath said.
The State police have taken cue from the government and launched a campaign against people accused of hoarding and blackmarketing medicine and oxygen cylinders.
ADG, Law and Order, Prashant Kumar, said some unscrupulous elements were indulging in rumour-mongering on social media and were posting similar messages repeatedly.
“It appears like there is an attempt to tarnish the image of the government,” Mr. Kumar said in a video statement.
Directions have been given to all districts to lodge FIRs and take strict action against such persons, he said.
U.P. Police said it had so far arrested 42 persons and recovered 239 oxygen cylinders and 688 vials of Remdesivir.