On June 18, Aaj Tak telecast a ground report by Anjana Om Kashyap from the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. The town has been at the centre of encephalitis deaths, the toll is over 100 now.
Kashyap was there to see if “a child’s life has any worth left in India”.
Moving around the ward, Kashyap can be seen shouting at a busy doctor and asking him how he’s going to fit ill children in the room. “If I didn’t switch on my mic then you wouldn’t have turned around,” she yells at him.
“Am I not on a round? Or am I just resting?” the nervous doctor shoots back.
Furthermore, when the doctor explains the procedure of admission and treatment to Kashyap, she asks: “how many kids died today?” This to a doctor who was in the middle of providing medical care to sick children. It’s Aaj Tak’s #JournalismOfCourage-equivalent of asking a field-tending farmer how many of his neighbours were lost to an ongoing famine.
Haranguing doctors treating ill children is how journalists ought to cover the encephalitis outbreak in Bihar—or so Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap believes.
Kashyap responded to the barrage of criticism by pointing out that the “truth” about hospital’s “mismanagement” (अप्रबंधन) and “negligence” (बेरूखी) was important to bring out. She added: “The propagandists forgot about the death of 108 children. Those showing crocodile sympathy for the doctor, stop the propaganda about heckling, let me remind you – 108 children have died till now.”