New Zealand HC in India appeals for oxygen, Congress helps, MEA denies shortage, says ‘making Modi look bad’

Image tweeted by Srinavas B V

After MEA denial, NZ PM Jacinda Ardern says ‘staffer inside embassy was unwell’

New Delhi: As India continues to reel under oxygen shortage, the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi turned to Twitter requesting oxygen cylinders amid a deadly outbreak of coronavirus in India, especially in New Delhi where hospitals have run out of crucial medical supplies.

The high commission initially tagged the youth wing of India’s main opposition Congress party for help; however, the tweet was deleted later.

Tagging the Indian Youth Congress, the New Zealand High Commission asked for help as it needed an oxygen cylinder at their embassy. “Could you please help with the oxygen cylinder urgently at the New Zealand High Commission? Thank you,” the High Commission tweeted.

Srinivas BV responded promptly, saying they would come to assist, and shortly, he tweeted photos of a team with oxygen tanks, saying: “We have reached New Zealand High Commission with oxygen cylinders”.

“We have reached New Zealand High Commission with oxygen cylinders. Please open the gates and save a soul on time. #SOSIYC,” he tweeted.

Another tweet of him reads: “Update- New Zealand high commission opened gates of the embassy and accepted cylinders. Also, they thanked the #SOSIYC team for this quick relief as patient inside embassy was critically ill.”

Later, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said there were no COVID cases in the “Philippines embassy”, and that the supply of oxygen cylinders was unsolicited by forces bent on making the Modi government look bad.

“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,” Jaishankar tweeted.

However, the New Zealand Commission later deleted the tweet and replaced it with: “We are trying all sources to arrange for oxygen cylinders urgently and our appeal has unfortunately been misinterpreted, for which we are sorry.”

Stung by the episode, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs advised foreign missions “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. Given the pandemic situation, all are urged not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen,” the foreign ministry said.

The exchange prompted many to question whether the New Zealand mission had been coerced into deleting the tweet because it was embarrassing for the Indian government.

After the denial of any shortage by the MEA, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said that the ‘staffer inside the embassy was critical prompting them to send an SOS for the oxygen’.

India is reeling under a massive surge in COVID cases that has overwhelmed hospitals and left hundreds of patients dying from a shortage of oxygen and medicines across the country. Social media has been flooded with appeals for healthcare essentials and beds.

Narendra Modi’s government has been skewered by critics in the country and the international press for bungling its response to the pandemic and possibly exacerbating it with mega political rallies and religious events.


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