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Ramdev 'Withdraws' Statement on Allopathic Medicines After Criticism, Minister's Letter

The Union health minister's letter to the yoga guru came after the IMA demanded the Centre to take strict action.

New Delhi: Feeling pressure from the Union health minister as well as the Indian Medical Association (IMA), yoga guru and businessman Ramdev on Sunday night said he was “withdrawing” his statements criticising allopathic medicines. Ramdev had earlier reportedly said that more people are dying due to modern medicines during the COVID-19 crisis than the virus itself.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday called Ramdev’s statement on allopathic medicines “extremely unfortunate” and asked him to withdraw it, a day after the IMA demanded that the Centre should take strict action against him for “misleading people by making unlearned” comments and describing modern medicine as “stupid science”.

Citing a video circulating on social media, the IMA on Saturday had said Ramdev has claimed that allopathy is a “stupid science” and medicines such as remdesivir, faviflu, and other drugs approved by the Drugs Controller General of India have failed to treat COVID-19 patients.

The doctors’ body also quoted Ramdev as saying that “lakhs of patients have died after taking allopathic medicines”.

These remarks were denied as misconstrued by the Haridwar-based Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, headed by Ramdev. Patanjali too has been criticised during this crisis for advertising its product Coronil as a cure for the novel coronavirus – with the support of the Union health minister.

In a letter to Ramdev, Vardhan asked him to withdraw his statement on allopathy. “The statement disrespects the corona warriors and hurt the sentiments of the country. Your statement on allopathy can break the morale of healthcare workers and weaken our fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Vardhan said that allopathic medicines have saved the lives of crores and described claims that it is responsible for the deaths of lakhs as “extremely unfortunate”.

Previous developments

The Resident Doctors’ Associations of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital too condemned Ramdev’s statement and demanded that “strictest steps” be taken against him.

IMA also said Ramdev saying, “Lakhs of patients have died after taking allopathic medicines.”

Ramdev should be prosecuted under the Epidemic Diseases Act as “untutored” statements are “a threat to the literate society of the country as well as to the poor people falling prey to him”, the IMA said in a statement.

“The Union health minister, who himself is a practising modern medicine allopathic postgraduate and head of this (health) ministry, should either accept the challenge and accusation of this gentleman and dissolve the modern medical facility or boldly face and prosecute the person for his words of arson on the sovereignty of the country and book him under the Epidemic Act to save millions of people from such unscientific utterances,” the IMA said.

The IMA said it has also sent a legal notice to Ramdev, seeking a ‘written apology’ and ‘recall of statements’ by him.

In response to the controversy, the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust issued a statement, denying the comments and saying, “It is clarified that the truncated version of the video is totally out of context of what is sought to be conveyed by Swami Ji.”

Asserting that Ramdev has “utmost regards” for doctors and support staff working day and night during such challenging times of the pandemic, the statement, signed by Trust General Secretary Acharya Balakrishna said, “Swami Ji has no ill-will against the modern science and good practitioners of modern medicine. What is being attributed against him is false and nugatory.”

IMA also alleged that Ramdev was trying to take advantage of the situation and create a sense of fear and frustration among the people at large, so that “he can sell his illegal and unapproved so-called medicines and make money at the cost of the public at large”. They said that Ramdev deserves to be prosecuted for “disobeying and causing danger” to the lives of many by making them disbelieve the advice of allopathy doctors.

“The IMA demands and resolves if the minister (Harsh Vardhan) is not taking suo moto action, we will be forced to resort to democratic means of struggle to propagate the truth to the common man and knock the doors of the judiciary to get due to justice,” it said, and added that taking people for ransom and winning business by defaming scientific medicine are unpardonable offences.

In a statement, the RDA of AIIMS said it “vehemently condemns” Ramdev’s comments.

“On behalf of the medical fraternity, and all healthcare and frontline workers, we demand strongly that strictest steps be taken against his inappropriate conduct at the earliest to prevent unrest amongst doctors and anxiety amongst the affected patients and their family,” it said.

“Ramdev should be booked under relevant sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1987 and we demand that he offers an unconditional apology to the scientific community failing which we will be forced to call for a public protest condemning the act.”

RDA of Safdarjung Hospital said Ramdev’s statement must be considered as hate speech, and requested appropriate authorities to book him under relevant sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1987.

“We demand unconditional public apology from Ramdev to allopathy and its practitioners,” it said in a statement.

(With PTI inputs)

Note: This article was published at 12:30 pm on May 23, 2021; updated at 7:50 pm on May 23, 2021 to include the Union health minister’s letter; and updated at 8:15 am on May 24, 2021 to include Ramdev’s ‘withdrawal’.