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Illegal abortions at dera’s Sirsa hospital? Haryana government begins probe

Health officials, who were part of a search team, say some of the dera hospital records don’t add up and they suspect abortions were carried out in violation of law.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2017 15:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Sirsa
Dera Sacha Sauda,Hospital,Sirsa
The Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa. Spread in 600 acres, the dera campus houses educational institutes, a cinema, luxury homes, a hospital and shopping arcades.(PTI photo)

The Haryana government has opened an investigation to ascertain if illegal abortions were carried out at the Dera Sacha Sauda hospital in Sirsa, officials said on Monday, a day after search operations ended at the sect’s 600-acre campus.

Shah Satnam Ji Super Speciality Hospital’s records for 2015 had some discrepancies that made them suspicious, a doctor with the Sirsa civil hospital who was part of the search team, told Hindustan Times. He refused to share the details as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“The medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) act was not being followed properly in the hospital and irregularities have been detected,” deputy commissioner Prabhjot Singh said.

The dera faced the scrutiny after its flamboyant leader, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was on August 25 found guilty of raping two disciples and sent to jail for 20 years.

His followers went on a rampage in Haryana and neighbouring states over the guilty verdict. Thirty-eight people were killed, six of them at Sirsa, in clashes with security personnel.

A few days later, the Punjab and Haryana high court ordered the sanitisation of the dera headquarters, which is a township in its own right equipped with educational institutes, a cinema hall, a stadium, a “seven-star” hotel, shopping complexes and several residential buildings, including luxury bungalows. The hospital, too, is part of the sprawling campus.

Though chief medical officer Govind Gupta declined to comment, saying he is not authorised to speak to media, a government official said a show-cause notice would be issued to the dera, which has a sizable following in Haryana, Punjab and neighbouring states.

Deputy director (information) Satish Mehra said the health department team found irregularities under the MTP act in the hospital record.

“It cannot be ruled out that Dera Sacha Sauda carried medical termination of pregnancies in about six cases,” he said, adding the health department and civil administration had begun a probe.

The dera is already in the dock for not keeping a record of bodies the hospital “donated” to medical colleges in the region for research.

A skin bank was being run without a licence, an official said.

The search also yielded a luxury car, explosives, an illegal fire-cracker factory and an empty box of AK-47 cartridges among others.

Secret tunnels, including one that linked sect chief’s plush residence, or the “gufa” as the followers knew it, to a women’s hostel, was also found.

It was in the “gufa” that the two women were raped.

First Published: Sep 11, 2017 13:26 IST