A day after Ashiq Khan, 8, allegedly died of food poisoning, the streets of his village, Kharak Revadi, were empty.
“There is not a single house in the family where someone is not complaining of diarrhoea,” said Dr Yusuf Khan who runs a private clinic in the village.
“More than 60 people have gone to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).”
Aashiq’s father, Saiju Khan, had rushed his son to hospital on Thursday afternoon.
“He was vomiting since the morning and had an upset stomach. He was admitted to AIIMS but was discharged yesterday (Friday) morning. He died a few hours after coming home,” he said.
But officials at AIIMS refute Khan’s claim.
“I don’t have any knowledge of people having come to AIIMS after drinking contaminated water,” said AIIMS spokesperson, Y.K. Gupta.
However, sources at Safdarjung Hospital informed that some people complaining of vomiting and upset stomach had come to the hospital on Thursday.
Khan’s daughter, Rukhsana, 12, is also suffering from diarrhoea and is admitted at All India Prayer Fellowship Mission Hospital , Chattarpur.
“We suspect that people have fallen ill after eating ice popsicles (chuski) that were being sold in the area,” said Delhi Health Minister, Kiran Walia.
Not all agree with her. “Everyone in the village did not eat the popsicle. Forty-year-olds are also admitted in the hospital,” said Mohammed Yakub, a resident of Kharak Revadi.
“I did not eat anything from the market yet I had to be admitted at the hospital with diarrhoea,” said Rahil, 40, who is admitted at the Mission Hospital.
People at Chandan Hulla, a neighbouring village, are also facing health problems.
“At least 15 people are unwell in the village. Many people have gone to AIIMS for a check-up, while others are going to nearby private hospitals and clinics,” said Mohammed Zakir, 15, a resident of Chandan Hulla.
“It is quite possible that illness at such a large scale is due to consumption of contaminated water or food,” said Dr Koshi Kurien, director, Mission Hospital .
“There are 10 patients admitted in the hospital from two villages in Chattarpur — Kharak Revadi and Chandan Hulla. All are complaining of vomiting and upset stomachs. Reports are awaited,” he added.
“We suspect that the people have contracted cholera, which is spread through contaminated water,” said a doctor at the Mission Hospital on condition of anonymity.
The two villages get their water from two Delhi Jal Board bore wells. The Directorate of Health Services (DHS), meanwhile, sent doctors to evaluate the situation in the area on Saturday afternoon.
“We are distributing medicines to control diarrhoea along with Oral Rehydration Solution,” said Dr Sunil Kumar, Mobile Health Scheme, DHS. Water samples from the bore wells have also been sent for testing.
“Reports should be out in 48 hours,” said B. M. Dhaul, chief engineer (south) Delhi Jal Board.