Chhattisgarh police on Thursday arrested the surgeon whose botched sterilisations claimed the lives of 13 women in Bilaspur earlier this week, and will produce him in a court later in the day.
Dr RK Gupta was on the run since the first deaths were reported and an FIR was lodged against him on Tuesday.
The 59-year old surgeon, who was honoured by the Chhattisgarh government on January 26 this year for accomplishing a massive target on mass sterilisation in the state-run campaign, was detained at Baloda Bazar, about 70 km from Bilaspur.
"He has been arrested today (Thursday) after he was detained in Baloda Bazar district. He will be produced before the court soon," Bilaspur inspector general of police Pawan Deo told HT, adding more arrests are likely to follow.
Following his arrest, the surgeon told reporters he has been made a scapegoat.
"I am innocent. The health of the women deteriorated owing to the sub-standard drugs prescribed to them following the sterilisation surgery," he claimed.
Gupta, who had operated upon 83 women in six hours last Saturday at the Sakri health camp in Bilaspur (which would mean that he spent just two minutes per tubectomy), was suspended on Tuesday by the state government.
While eight women died on Monday, three on Tuesday and one on Wednesday and at least two dozen others are being treated in various hospitals.
During the campaign even women of primitive tribes, whose sterilisation is banned by the government, were reportedly "coerced" to attend such camps.
Twenty-four-year old Chaiti Bai, a member of Baiga community, died late on Wednesday evening following the botched laparoscopic tubectomy in the camp at Guarela-Pendra in Bilaspur.
Bilaspur commissioner Sonmoni Borah confirmed to HT there were two Baiga women among the 16 who were rushed to Bilaspur from Guarela-Pendra for immediate medical treatment after they underwent sterilisation operation.
Amid reports that rusted equipment were used in the surgeries, a team of doctors from Delhi's premier AIIMS hospital is in Bilaspur to investigate into the incident.
The state government also banned the sale of four medicines which were given to the women after the sterilisation at different camps in Bilaspur on Wednesday. The drugs have been sent to a Kolkata laboratary for tests and analysis.
In the wake of the deaths and the subsequent protests, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to institute a judicial probe into it.
During his visit to Bilaspur to meet the ailing women patients, chief minister Dr Raman Singh declared that judicial commission will inquire into the botched-up sterilisation deaths."Instead of any departmental inquiry I have decided for a judicial probe that will thoroughly investigate into every aspect," he said. This was his second visit to Bilaspur after the reports on deaths emerged following the sterilisation in the state-run camp.