The principal of a medical college in Uttar Pradesh has attracted criticism after a widely shared video purportedly showed her referring to the Tablighi Jamaat members as “terrorists”, The Hindu reported on Monday.

Several Indians and foreigners had attended a Tablighi Jamaat conference held in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in March. It later emerged as a coronavirus hotspot. After the event, many participants returned home across the country while others travelled to meetings, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection. Many members were placed in quarantine centres.

Kanpur Medical College Principal Dr Aarti Lalchandani allegedly said that the Jamaat members should be sent to “solitary confinements” in jails or “sent to jungles and be locked up in dungeons”, instead of being kept in isolation. has not been able to independently verify the video.

The video shows Lalchandani making the derogatory remarks in front of several people. “We should not say this, but they are terrorists,” Lalchandani said. “And we are providing them VIP treatment, providing them food...exhausting our resources on them.”

The principal also claimed that the hospital was being wasteful in using personal protective equipment kits for treating the Tablighi Jamaat members. “Those who should be in jail, you are bringing them here for treatment, feeding them food, getting others infected, wasting manpower and kits,” Lalchandani said in the video.

Lalchandani also accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government of appeasement and added that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath should issue an order saying that the state’s manpower and resources should not be used to treat the Jamaat members.

The principal admitted to making the remark but told the newspaper that the video was “morphed” and that she did not refer to any community or target Muslims, reported NDTV. She claimed that the comments were made in a moment of anger and frustration, adding that the video was recorded over two months ago.

To a question on who she was referring to as “terrorists” in the video, the doctor said: “All those 80 people who came in, their bags were not checked and they were threatening, abusing and spitting everywhere.” She added that she was referring to the rush of patients in hospitals also due to the emergence of the Markaz event as a Covid-19 hotspot.

Lalchandani said that she will file a complaint against the reporter who took the video for carrying out a “sting” and for leaking the video in an attempt to blackmail her. She also accused the journalist of trying disrupt peace and provoking Muslims.

Meanwhile, former Kanpur MP and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Subhashini Ali condemned the principal’s remarks and demanded an inquiry into the incident. Ali also called for her removal and filing of a first information report if the principal actually made the comments.

Earlier in May, Adityanath had claimed that the Tablighi Jamaat was responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in the state and other places. “Being infected with a virus is not a crime, hiding it is definitely a crime,” Adityanath had said. Uttar Pradesh has so far recorded 7,823 cases and 213 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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