Thousands of Indian doctors protest against controversial yoga guru

New Delhi, Jun 1 (EFE).- Thousands of doctors on Tuesday protested across India against popular and controversial yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who heads an empire based on traditional Indian medicine, for his recent statements against modern medicine in the middle of the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Manish Nigam, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Associations of India – the group that had called the protests – told EFE that more than 10,000 health professionals had joined the protests without interrupting their medical work.

“During this pandemic, our doctors worked so hard day and night and some of them have given their lives also and still we are continuing with our work, so we felt very hurt when this kind of statement comes from Mr Ramdev, and we demand an unconditional apology,” Nigam said.

Although the doctor insisted that the protesters had nothing against traditional Indian medicine, popularly known as ayurveda.

During a seminar in May, Ram Kisan Yadav – popularly known as Ramdev – had questioned the medicines used against Covid and said that thousands of people had died after consuming these drugs in a video that quickly went viral and triggered a major controversy.

His comments not just caused indignation among medical guilds such as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and doctors, but Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan – who has in the past often endorsed Ramdev in public – also called his statements “unfortunate.”

“Allopathy [modern medicine] and the doctors attached to it have given new lives to millions of people. It’s very unfortunate for you to say that people died from consuming allopathic medicines,” the minister said in an open letter to the guru.

Facing a barrage of criticism, Ramdev issued an apology las week, but the next day he released an open letter to the IMA asking for a series of explanations, including why modern medicine had no definitive cure for ailments such as thyroid-related issues or asthma.

The letter led to fresh outrage among medical professionals, who have accused the yoga guru of fueling skepticism towards anti-Covid vaccines amid a virulent second wave of the virus which triggered a collapse of the Indian health system, including deadly shortages of oxygen and hospital beds.

India has registered more than 28 million coronavirus infections so far, including 127,510 fresh cases and 2,795 deaths within the last 24 hours.

Ramdev, who in 1995 founded Patanjali – a company that produces and sells ayurveda and FMCG products – enjoys a dedicated fan following and is one of the most well-known religious and public figures in India.

The guru is not new to controversy and in February unveiled a remedy claimed to be effective against coronavirus, which was severely criticized in medical circles for being unscientific.

He has in the past also made unsubstantiated claims of being able to cure cancer or AIDS through yoga and traditional medicine such as cow urine, apart from controversially offering to “cure” homosexuals in one of his centers. EFE


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