Gorakhpur hospital deaths: Yogi Adityanath warns of exemplary action, Congress demands his resignation
The UP government blames Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome for the Gorakhpur tragedy.india Updated: Aug 14, 2017 00:11 IST
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday warned of exemplary punishment to those responsible for the death of at least 60 children in a government hospital here, as the Opposition called it a “massacre” and demanded his resignation.
The Centre, too, stepped in to contain the damage, approving a national virology research centre for Gorakhpur, the Lok Sabha constituency of Adityanath. The announcement was made by Union health minister JP Nadda, who flew in from Delhi and visited the Baba Raghav Das Medical College with Adityanath.
“Let the reports come. I assure you, if anyone’s negligence caused the death of a person, in any part of UP, he won’t be spared,” Adityanath said at a press conference he addressed with Nadda. He was talking about probes being carried out by a panel led by the chief secretary and a central government team into the last week’s deaths.
The state government blames Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome for the tragedy and denies a cut in liquid oxygen supply by a private firm over delay in payment of Rs 68 lakh caused the deaths.
The Centre also sent a team of experts to study the reasons for the spread of encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus that every year ravages eastern Uttar Pradesh.
A few hours after Adityanath’s visit, Dr Kafeel Khan, hailed for saving many lives, was removed as the chief of the encephalitis ward. The paediatrician was stripped off the responsibility on charges of dereliction of duty and carrying out private practice.
Khan is the second hospital staff to face action. The government had on Saturday suspended the college principal.
Non-payment to the oxygen supplier was not brought to his notice when he visited the hospital, Adityanath said. He was at the college two days before the deaths were reported.
“The principal told me that funds for payment of arrears were credited in the medical college’s account on August 7. The inquiry committee will find out the (reason for) delay in the release of the arrears to the supplier,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was concerned about the children’s death, said Nadda. “He is keeping a watch on the situation and directed me to visit Gorakhpur and take stock of the situation. The Centre will give all assistance to the state government to upgrade facilities at the BRD medical college,” he said.
A sustained campaign was needed to eradicate the killer disease, Adityanath said. Encephalitis has killed more than 50,000 children in eastern UP in the last 30 years, including nearly 3,000 in BRD medical college since 2012.
The state government had launched a vaccination drive before monsoon and set up ICUs in district hospitals, he said, accusing the Opposition of politicising the deaths.
Rubbishing Adityanath’s claim that the deaths occurred due to vector-borne diseases, the Congress termed them as “murders” and “massacre” and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe.
“...The unusually high number of deaths occurred due to neglect and mismanagement and not due to any disease as being claimed by the BJP government,” Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said. “It has been proved that it was not just a tragedy but it was a murder and massacre.”
State Congress chief Raj Babbar demanded Adityanath’s resignation, saying how would a chief minister who couldn’t handle a medical college in his home district manage a state.
Former chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati said the college principal was made a “scapegoat”. She termed as “irresponsible” Uttar Pradesh health minister Sidharth Nath Singh’s remarks that “many children die” in August every year at the Gorakhpur hospital.
With agency inputs