Shiv Sena attacks Centre over COVID deaths due to oxygen shortage, Pegasus spyware

New Delhi: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday (July 21) accused the Central government of lying after it said that no COVID-19 deaths had been reported due to an oxygen shortage during the second wave, and demanded that a case be filed against it. While speaking to reporters here, Raut asked what would happen to families who had lost their loved ones due to the oxygen shortage after hearing this.

“I am speechless. What would have happened to the families of those who lost their loved ones to oxygen shortage after hearing this statement? A case should be filed against the government. They are lying,” the Shiv Sena leader said. Responding to a question by Congress MP KC Venugopal on Tuesday on whether a large number of COVID-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen in the second wave, Minister of State for Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar had told the Rajya Sabha that no deaths due to lack of oxygen had been specifically reported by states, Union territories during the second wave of COVID-19.

In the written reply, she also stated that health is a state subject and accordingly all states, UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. 

Asked about the Pegasus project, Raut said if there was nothing to hide, why was the government scared. “The opposition has asked for Joint Parliamentary Committee and Supreme Court`s intervention. If Ravi Shankar Prasad was in opposition, he would’ve demanded the same. Let the truth come out. If there is nothing to hide, why are you scared?” he said. 

The Pegasus project had come to light on Sunday through a report by The Wire. Several opposition leaders have demanded an independent probe into the matter. The names of over 40 Indian journalists and politicians appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, according to the report.

Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said that there was ‘no substance’ in the media report and alleged that the report was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions. 

A parliamentary standing committee, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, will question officials of the Ministry of Information and Technology and the Ministry of Home Affairs in connection with the case on July 28.

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