A murder case has been filed against India's Election Commission in the wake of the death of a ruling Trinamool Congress party leader in the poll-bound eastern state of West Bengal, police said on Wednesday.
The case was filed by the wife of Trinamool politician Kajal Sinha who contracted coronavirus while campaigning for the ongoing assembly polls in the state and died of Covid-related complications on April 25.
In her complaint to police against the poll panel, Kajal's wife Nandita has blamed Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain for the "unintentional" murder of her husband.
"While the entire nation was struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis, the Election Commission decided to carry out the assembly elections in the state of West Bengal over a staggering eight phases from March 27, 2021 to April 29, 2021.
"In comparison, assembly elections in three other states -- Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry -- were held and completed in one day in one phase... And Assam, another state, saw voting in three phases in a span of three days," she wrote in her complaint.
The police case against the Election Commission comes two days after the Madras High Court in Tamil Nadu held the poll panel responsible for the ferocious second wave of Covid-19 in India and threatened to book its top officials for murder.
"Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19. Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably," the court told the Election Commission on Monday, in the wake of a plea against crowded election campaigns in Tamil Nadu.
"You have failed to enforce Covid safety rules like masks, sanitisers and distancing during campaigning despite court orders. Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held," a two-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, had said.
The court's rebuke came on a day when India recorded a whopping 3.52 lakh new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours amid an acute shortage of oxygen in hospitals across the country.
In fact, the oxygen crisis in India, particularly in the national capital, is worsening with each passing day. Hospitals after hospitals in Delhi are sending out SOS messages to health authorities daily, seeking adequate supply of the life-saving gas.
Last week, at least 50 Covid patients on life support died at two leading Delhi hospitals due to oxygen shortage.
Jaipur Golden Hospital, a dedicated Covid medical facility in Delhi, said on Saturday morning that 25 Covid patients died around midnight on Friday due to "low-supply oxygen" to critical patients on ventilator.
"We had been allotted 3.5 metric tonnes of oxygen from the government. The supply was to reach us by 5 in the evening, but it reached around midnight. By then, 25 patients had died," Dr DK Baluja, the hospital's Medical Director had said.
On Friday morning too, another leading hospital in Delhi announced the deaths of 25 patients in 24 hours due to a shortage of oxygen.
In a statement, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital had said, "25 sickest patients have died in last 24 hours. Oxygen will last another two hours. Major crisis likely. Lives of another 60 sickest patients at risk, need urgent intervention."
It may also be mentioned here that 24 Covid patients on ventilator at a government hospital in the western Indian state of Maharashtra died on Wednesday after their oxygen supply ran out following leakage of the life-supporting gas from a tanker.
The tanker was brought to Zakir Hussain Municipal Hospital in the state's Nashik district to replenish the oxygen cylinders at the medical facility for continuous supply to the 150-plus Covid-19 patients on life support.
The US, the world's worst-hit country, has, meanwhile, assured India of all assistance, in its hour of crisis.
"Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need," US President Joe Biden said in a tweet Sunday.