Health workers defame, breach privacy of people reluctant to take vaccine

Health workers defame, breach privacy of people reluctant to take vaccine

Anantnag: The law of the land is yet to make Covid vaccination an “obligation” to be fulfilled by every citizen, but healthcare workers in Kashmir are picking up fights with people reluctant to get a dose, even making videos of them and posting them on social media in utter disregard to ‘choice and privacy’ of the people in question.

“This callous behaviour does not only breach the right to privacy but it also comes within the definition of defamation,” a lawyer, requesting not to be named, told Kashmir Reader.

He added that nowhere in the world is vaccination mandatory. “It is a choice and the healthcare workers should leave it at that,” the lawyer said.

The directorate of health services is yet to take note of this malpractice, while videos of “vaccine reluctance” are being used to demonise the whole Kashmiri society and present them as “Covidiots”.

Several videos of healthcare workers trying to reach the remotest corners of Kashmir to vaccinate people have been doing rounds over social media for some time now and there has been much appreciation of these efforts.

Perhaps emboldened or buoyed with the applause they have been receiving, some healthcare workers have taken a step further and started forcing people for vaccination.

Last week, a video of an old man arguing with healthcare workers and clearly stating his reluctance to be vaccinated went viral over social media.

The video was followed by another one, of a lady who vented her frustration after apparently coming to know about her husband’s vaccination. “I will kill that doctor,” the lady could be heard saying.

Interestingly, the very next day the pictures of her husband’s vaccination were released over social media.

On Monday, however, a video from Baramulla district took social media by storm. In this video a lady can be seen asking healthcare workers to leave her family alone. “I don’t want my husband to get vaccinated,” the woman can be heard saying. “It is our choice.”

In this new video, the healthcare workers are seen refusing to back off and also needling the lady. Tempers blew off pretty quickly and the two sides apparently exchanged some blows as well.

The video was widely shared and some people, particularly from outside the valley, blamed the lady for being a “Covidiot”.

The question, however, arises whether healthcare workers can force people to take the jab? Are they entitled to take a video and/or pictures and circulate them on social media without keeping into consideration the privacy of people who are reluctant to take a vaccine? Why is the Directorate of Health allowing these things to happen and whether there is no system in place to check such callous behaviour?

“The Cyber Cell of the Jammu and Kashmir Police should take immediate note of this practice and see that no such videos are circulated further,” the lawyer that Kashmir Reader talked to said.

A police officer, who has headed the Cyber Cell of Police for a while, told Kashmir Reader that an individual who feels he is being defamed can come to the department with a complaint.

“This falls within the ambit of ‘crime against an individual’. Unless and until the person comes up with a complaint, the police won’t act. Police take action on their own in instances where the crime is against the state,” the police officer explained.

Director Health services, Dr Mushtaq Rather said that the videos were being recorded to motivate other people, like so many people from different walks of life have been doing vis-a-vis the vaccination process.

“But there is a way. If you do not subscribe to something or agree with somebody, it does not mean you will beat them,” Rather said, adding that his people have been working tirelessly and they do not deserve to be treated like that.

He, however, acknowledged that no one has the right to record someone and post it over social media.

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