Prime Minister Narendra Modi's July 3 visit to a military hospital in Leh, to meet soldiers injured in the clashes between India and China at Galwan valley, has sparked controversy on social media. The viral posts claimed that the visit was staged as there were no injuries visible on the soldiers and that it was a photo op manufactured for Modi.
The Indian Army in a statement has rubbished all such claims.
Narendra Modi was visiting Leh, Ladakh and interacted with personnel from Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indo Tibetan Border Police stationed there. The visit comes weeks after Indian troops clashed with Chinese army at Galwan Valley which led to the death of at least 20 soldiers and several more injured.
Posts on Twitter shared photos showing Modi's interacting with soldiers at the hospital and highlighted details in the background including a projector, a screen framed photos and the lack of medical equipment.
My dear Army brothers, I am ashamed that my Prime Minister made you do event management for his political intent. I respect you for your sacrifices and I understand your reason behind doing this !— Sangram Satpathy (@sangramsatpath9) July 3, 2020
Surender Modi, you are a disgrace. Podium in a hospital?? Really?? For your lust?? pic.twitter.com/cNYix4KPKf
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National campaign in-charge of Youth Congress, Srivatsa YB also made a similar claim and tweeted saying PM Modi called a 'conference room' a hospital ward.
56-inch tummy is the first PM to call a conference room as a hospital ward.— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) July 4, 2020
Even Oscars falls short for such acting! pic.twitter.com/2uVeguZ5Bf
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The army should put its foot down and tell Modi it will not be a part of his marketing gimmicks. This is the limit, turning a conference room into a ward for Photo op#MunnaBhaiMBBS pic.twitter.com/k1DKvl71ti— Neha (@ShantiseAshanTi) July 4, 2020
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BOOM found that the military hospital in Leh did not stage the settings or convert a conference room to a ward specifically for Modi's visit. Videos show that the room had been converted to a ward to treat soldiers and the Army Chief General MM Naravane also met patients in the same room during his two day visit to Leh on June 23.
We also spoke to former military nursing officials who served in the Leh military hospital. They explained that the photos are from a room used as a conference room but converted into a ward for patients during crisis or emergencies. Below we examine some of the claims made in the viral posts.
Was A Conference Room Turned Into A Patient Ward For PM Modi's Visit?
We found that the the room, though a conference room, had been turned into a ward for treatment of soldiers much before Modi's visit. The same room can be seen when Indian Army chief MM Naravane visited soldiers on June 23.
Below is a tweet by the official handle of the ADGPI on June 23, showing Naravane speaking to injured soldiers.
A comparison of photos from Modi's visit and Naravane's visit shows the same curtains, the same photo frames and wall hangings in the room, proving that the room had been converted into a patient ward much before Modi's visit.
Below is a comparison -
A video of Modi's interaction with soldiers can be seen here
BOOM also spoke to a senior ex-service woman who was part of the Military Nursing service and has worked at the Leh General hospital. She explained that during a crisis situation, any space in an hospital can be converted to a patient ward. "The room seen in the photos is a conference room or a training room with visual devices but has been converted to a ward for patients. It is standard procedure to do so and is not restricted to a visit by a dignitary," she said adding that this is part of the General Hospital complex. She also clarified, "The lack of medical equipment beside wards is because they would have made a separate nursing station to keep all the equipment."
Were The Soldiers Pretending To Be Injured?
Former military reservist and lawyer, Navdeep Singh explained that the soldiers seen were recuperating and were not being treated for major injuries.
Those soldiers are not there for major physical injuries but for recuperation cum debriefing, a standard process. They have to be kept away from other patients hence a temporary ward might've been created in the hospital seminar room or other large area.https://t.co/zXvNtU7HwS pic.twitter.com/gj7h2j6GlQ— Navdeep Singh (@SinghNavdeep) July 4, 2020
Malicious And Unsubstantiated Accusations: Indian Army
Following the viral posts, the Indian Army also released a clarification, explaining the while the room was indeed a Audio Visual Training Room, it was converted to a ward since the hospital was designated as a COVID treatment facility.
Calling the posts 'malicious' and 'unsubstantiated', the full statement reads, "It is unfortunate that aspersions are being cast on how our brave Armed Forces are treated. The Armed Forces give the best possible treatment to their personnel. It is clarified that the said facility is part of the Crisis Expansion capacity of 100 beds and is very much part of the General Hospital complex. The COVID-19 protocol had necessitated some wards of the General Hospital to be converted into isolation facilities.Hence, this hall which otherwise was normally used as a Training Audio Video Hall was converted into a ward ever since the hospital was also designated as COVID treatment hospital. The injured braves have been kept there since their arrival from Galwan to ensure quarantine from COVID areas." The statement further added that," The Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane and the Army Commander have also visited the injured braves in the same location"
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