NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indian doctors observed a Black Day on Tuesday to protest controversial yoga guru Swami Ramdev’s comments accusing medical practitioners of several coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths across the country and terming allopathy as a “failed science.”
“We want Ramdev to apologize in public for his disparaging remarks,” Dr. Manish Kumar, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association, told Arab News.
Medical staff at several hospitals across the country participated in demonstrations, holding placards and calling for the arrest of Ramdev, founder of the company Patanjali Ayurved.
“We are observing a Black Day without stopping our regular work. While the government is working under so much stress, Ramdev is making such a statement to push his Ayurvedic business,” Kumar said, adding: “If he does not apologize, we will approach the government and then the court.”
On May 20, the popular guru, who enjoys a massive cult following across India, blamed medical practitioners for the country’s growing death toll amid a deadly second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
“Lakhs of patients have died because of allopathic medicines, rather than a shortage of oxygen,” he told supporters in the northern Indian city of Haridwar, where he runs a yoga training center and oversees a $100 million business empire selling Ayurvedic products.
Four days later, Ramdev issued an apology after the Indian government asked him to do so, but soon issued an open letter to the premier medical body, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), with 25 questions, including “whether allopathy offered permanent relief from ailments.”
He also declared that nobody could arrest him in the letter.
On Sunday, Ramdev irked more medical staff by questioning the vaccine’s efficacy, adding that he would not be taking it and asking the public to instead follow yoga and Ayurveda practices to avoid contracting COVID-19.
The IMA, in turn, sent Ramdev a defamation notice for his remarks and demanded he apologize within 15 days or otherwise face a $150 million penalty.
On Monday, however, Ramdev said that his statements had been misunderstood.
“I respect allopathy and allopathic doctors. Their contribution is immense to the medical field and society,” he told reporters, adding: “Our drive is not against them but against those who sell medicines at exorbitant prices and treat patients as revenue-earning customers.”