19:16 GMT24 June 2021
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    Long lines of heartbroken Indians awaiting their turn to perform last rites for their loved ones outside crematoriums are among the most devastating moments to grab headlines as the nation battles a second wave of COVID-19.

    A visibly emotional Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a hard time finding the right words to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of Indians who have lost their lives fighting coronavirus, as he thanked frontline workers during a video conference with health personnel in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

    "This virus has ... snatched many loved ones from us. I pay my humble tribute to them and I express my condolences to the families who lost people", Modi said taking long pauses, gulping in air and trying to hold back tears.

    A video of the teary-eyed Modi went viral within minutes.

    Some Indians, who have been brutally criticising the Modi government over its percieved ill-preparedness and mismanagement of the second COVID wave, called out the prime minister for pulling off a theatrical drama before the public.

    Slamming Prime Minister Modi for shedding "crocodile tears", some netizens noted that he and his party were involved in organising massive public rallies in four states and one union territory during legislative assembly polls held between March and May. 

    Many Indians also mocked the PM, suggesting he should be nominated for an Oscar.

    ​India confirmed 259,591 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, with the total number of those infected having reached 26,031,991. The public has been infuriated with the Modi government since the outbreak of the second COVID-19 wave, especially after the daily death toll crossed 4,000, with many accusing the BJP of failing to tackle the crisis.

    Hospitals in big cities like New Delhi and Mumbai had to seek help on social media, as their facilities were running out of oxygen, drugs, and medical equipment. Some cities, including New Delhi, ran out of cremation grounds, and piles of dead bodies were cremated in parking lots.

    Prime Minister Modi's government also drew much flak for letting Hindu devotees gather for a religious congregation, Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar, with photos and videos of hundreds of people bathing in the holy Ganges River as part of the festival going viral on social media. The Kumbh gathering was criticised as a superspreader event after thousands of attendees tested positive for coronavirus.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi, Indians, India
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