A group of eminent personalities from West Bengal has hit out at Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra for criticising NRI doctors, who had recently written an open letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee voicing concern over the "misreporting" of COVID-19 situation in the state.
In a statement, 75 top voices in the state, including filmmakers, actors, music composers and professors, said that the Trinamool MP's reaction has left them deeply "embarrassed" as the NRI doctors are "renowned public health scientists and physicians" who are engaged in data science and modelling initiatives related to COVID-19.
Last month, a group of non-resident medical professionals had written an open letter to the West Bengal Chief Minister raising concerns over the "gross under-testing" and "misreporting of data" on the cause of death of COVID-19 patients. Such a move "will have a direct impact on the spread of the virus and lead to a massive crisis in the state," said the letter by the group which identified themselves as Bengali physicians, health scientists, and healthcare providers "with roots in the state".
In response to the letter, Ms Moitra had tweeted: "11 of 14 NRI docs writing to WB CM in US, 2 in UK & 1 in Ger.W/due respect you choose to live practise pay taxes elsewhere Suggest you get down to work in yr adopted countries! (sic)"
11 of 14 NRI docs writing to WB CM in US, 2 in UK & 1 in Ger- Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) April 24, 2020
W/due respect you choose to live practise pay taxes elsewhere
US cases 2679/1mm pop, deaths 152/1mm
UK cases 2034/1 mm, dths 276/ 1 mm
India 17/1 mm, dths 0.5/1mm
Suggest you get down to work in yr adopted countries! pic.twitter.com/oSfd9paFqz
The Trinamool MP followed with another tweet where she asked them to advice government in their adopted countries which were severely hit by the pandemic.
Q: Ques for NRI docs- Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) April 25, 2020
Yr adopted home UK & US have worst stats & worst handling of COVID despite devlpd econ
Poor govt comm, no PPE & supplies, health staff at risk
Why not write such letters to UK Health Secy/Trump/ state governors?
A: Much easier to become heroes here, right?
The personalities said they are "embarrassed of such a reaction from an MP in the wake of the pandemic". "The petty insinuations made were uncalled for diverting attention from the real issues and unnecessarily politicising the pandemic. We are afraid that this reaction from a representative of Parliament could dissuade NRI specialists from coming forward to offer their knowledge and expertise during critical times," the statement said.
"Today, more than ever state officials should rise above petty whataboutery and listen to experts in dealing with health crisis," it added.
The eminent personalities also referred to Ms Moitra's famous speech in Lok Sabha where she had defended criticisms against the government to make their point.
"Why then, raising public health concerns about the state is equated to criticising West Bengal? Or is she trying to imply that their non-resident status precludes these scientists from questioning things at home?" the statement said.
The personalities asserted that NRI doctors are renowned public health scientists and physicians from premier institutions in the US, UK and Germany. Several of them are engaged in data science and modelling initiatives related to COVID-19, they said.
The signatories include filmmakers Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Tarun Majumder, Kamaleswar Mukhopadhyay and Suman Mukhopadhyay, artist Wasim Kapoor, actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty, music composer Debajyoti Misra, professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and educationist Pabitra Sarkar.
The total number of people infected by Covid-19 in West Bengal stands at 886. Of them, 624 are active cases and 199 have recovered. The Union Health ministry has put the figure at 922.
With inputs from PTI