Anger Rises In India Over PM Modi's COVID Response

In New Delhi on Monday, family members cremate the body of a person who died after contracting COVID-19.

Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MUMBAI, India — Outside an upscale Indian hospital last week, Baljeet Asthana put her phone on selfie mode, propped her eyeglasses on her head so she could stare directly into the camera, and hit record.

Through a white polka-dot mask, she described her family's ordeal: Her 82-year-old mother was inside the hospital "struggling for her life," Asthana said. Her mother desperately needed an intensive care unit bed, but the hospital — Fortis Hospital, one of the best-equipped private facilities in the capital, New Delhi — was full. Officials told the family to look for an ICU bed elsewhere.

"My mother is slowly dying," reads her tweet accompanying her video.

Near the end of her video, Asthana addresses Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as Delhi's chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal. She asks them for advice on where she should take her dying mother and closes with a chilling request.

"If you cannot advise me, sir, I would request you to legalize mercy killing in India, because you have no idea what the common citizen of India is going through at the moment," Asthana says into the camera. "We are struggling to get basic things like oxygen, medicines, hospitals. Please legalize mercy killing in India."