A viral message along with a video of Dr. Tarun Kothari, a known voice opposing the use of masks and vaccines against COVID-19, falsely claims that the doctor is the Dean of Nair Hospital in Mumbai. Dr. Kothari is an independent medical practitioner and radiologist based in Delhi who has been actively circulating videos which downplay the impact of COVID-19 along with masks as well as vaccines.
The current dean of the municipal corporation-run hospital based in Mumbai is Dr. Ramesh Bharmal.
BOOM received the video along with the message on its WhatsApp helpline requesting verification. In the 01:34 minute video, Kothari is heard asking people to not wear masks even if the country's Prime Minister asks them to do so. He further claims that masks will lead people to face oxygen issues. Furthermore, he also says that people should avoid social distancing and receiving the vaccine.
On July 23, 2021, the Delhi Crime Branch Cyber cell iled an FIR against Kothari for spreading disinformation through the same video.
In an earlier conversation, DR. Kothari told BOOM has that he is an independent medical practitioner based in Delhi and is not linked to Mumbai's BYL Nair Hospital in any capacity. Additionally, he is a radiologist and not a TB expert as the caption claims.
The caption also misspells the words dean and Nair as din and Nayar.
In the viral video, Kothari is sharing previously debunked theories of masks, social distancing, and vaccination. The doctor has been active across all social media platforms downplaying the impact of COVID-19 and calling it an in international conspiracy since March 2020.
He was also one of the doctors who signed the letter in January 2021 promoting vaccine hesitancy among people and stopping them from going ahead with receiving the vaccine. He, along with a group of other doctors are the most vocal voices opposing masking and vaccination. He misled people by saying that unmarried women, people with neurological issues, diabetes, and those who smoke or drink alcohol should not take the vaccine.
BOOM accessed a Navbharat Times report that says that for this same video, the Cyber cell of Delhi Crime Branch has on its own filed an FIR against the doctor on July 23. On July 20, Naresh Kumar, the head constable of the cyber cell came across a group of people gathered at the ITO circle who were watching this video in which Kothari narrates his false claims of masks being injurious as well as vaccines causing more death than the disease.
Kothari's claims are sensational but not scientifically backed. There are no studies suggesting that masking or social distancing are problematic or that vaccines are actually leading to more deaths. Kothari has managed to acquire a set of followers across social media over the past year and has also written the book 'Corona Pandemic Scandal.'
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