Row over oxygen supply to foreign missions | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: The government on Sunday sparred with the Congress over the latter’s “unsolicited” supply of oxygen cylinders to foreign missions and also asked the diplomatic community to not hoard oxygen which remains scarce in the city. This followed reported efforts on social media by two foreign missions to source oxygen cylinders from Indian Youth Congress chief BV Srinivas who has become the ‘go to’ person for Covid-related help on Twitter.
The New Zealand high commission tweeted on Sunday morning from its official handle tagging Srinivas and his team about an urgent requirement for oxygen. Later though, it deleted the tweet and said in another tweet that it was trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and its appeal had “unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry”.
While the Philippines embassy was also said to have sought and received oxygen cylinders from the Youth Congress, External affairs minister S Jaishankar said this was an unsolicited supply.
“MEA checked with the Philippines embassy. This was an unsolicited supply as they had no Covid cases. Clearly for cheap publicity by you know who. Giving away cylinders like this when there are people in desperate need of oxygen is simply appalling,” tweeted Jaishankar.
The minister was responding to a tweet by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in which he expressed surprise that Youth Congress was having to respond to SOS calls from foreign embassies and sought to know if MEA was sleeping.
The MEA also issued a statement in which, given the pandemic situation, it urged “all” not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen.
“The Chief of Protocol and Heads of Divisions are in continuous touch with all high commissions/embassies and MEA is responding to their medical demands, especially those related to Covid. This includes facilitating their hospital treatment,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
The Youth Congress-verified handle posted screenshots though to claim that they had indeed received a request for cylinders from the Philippines embassy for two patients. They also posted snippets of conversation with a supposed embassy representative. The cylinder delivered to the New Zealand high commission was apparently also meant for a critically ill patient.
“We got a request for an urgent requirement of oxygen cylinders for two Covid patients in the Philippines embassy. The cylinders were delivered at the embassy on a much-solicited request. Post delivery, embassy thanked us on Facebook. All screenshots attached with names and number masked,” the IYC handle wrote at 11.25am.
TOI checked the Facebook page of the embassy. There are two such pages: a verified and an unverified page. The verified page had stopped putting posts in May 2020. Since then, the unverified page has been active. The IYC handle screenshot matched the display picture from the unverified page. TOI, however, could not find the original post which the IYC had shared even on the unverified page. The last post on the unverified page was made on April 29.

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