The filing of an FIR by the police in Amethi, UP, against a man who had used Twitter to appeal for an oxygen cylinder is certainly uncalled for. According to the police, the man was guilty of spreading rumours. However, the man’s grandfather was undergoing treatment at a hospital and did pass away due to a heart attack. Surely, it can’t be the UP police’s case that oxygen is only required for Covid patients. Besides, even if the man’s plea on Twitter was an overreaction, he can be forgiven given the extraordinary circumstances the country is passing through.
After all, there is no denying that hospitals in many parts of the country are facing an oxygen crunch due to the high number of Covid patients they are getting. In fact, many have had to turn away patients due to lack of oxygen. In these desperate times it is natural for members of the public to be concerned about oxygen supply, especially when a relative is undergoing treatment at a hospital. Therefore, taking into consideration the unprecedented public health emergency, the police and administrative authorities should be lenient towards public comments on social media.
Of course, dangerous cases of rumour mongering should not be spared. But every comment, every plea for help, every critical remark shouldn’t be treated as an affront to government or authority. These are terrible times. Police and authorities would do well to display some compassion and flexibility.
Read also: Amethi man booked for tweet seeking oxygen
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