The National Human Rights Commission on Monday issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government in connection with the deaths of 63 children in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital. It sought details about the measures taken to rehabilitate the families affected and what actions were taken against the guilty officers. The commission gave the government four weeks’ time to submit its report.
The NHRC said the incident was a “serious violation of the right to life of the patients” and that it indicated towards the “gross callousness” on part of the hospital administration as well as the state government. The commission took suo motu cognisance of several media reports that suggested that the negligence in the supply of liquid oxygen had led to the deaths.
It also said that the issue of encephalitis was taken up with the state’s chief secretary during an open hearing at Lucknow conducted between August 9 and 11. “However, in spite of assurance given by the state administration, the situation has not improved,” it added.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to take suo moto cognisance and disposed of a petition in connection with the incident. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar asked the petitioner to approach the High Court as Chief Minister Adityanath was “personally taking interest” in the matter.
The plea had also sought an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team in the case.
Adityanath had said on Saturday that shortage of oxygen supply was not the cause for all of the victims’ deaths. His statement attributed the cause of most of the deaths to encephalitis, though reports had alleged that they had died after a shortage of oxygen supply to the hospital. He had said that a special team will investigate the deaths.
The principal of BRD Medical College and Hospital and the nodal officer at its Department of Paediatrics were both replaced on Sunday. Rajeev Mishra and Kaleef Khan were suspended from their posts on Saturday. Mishra, however, had said that he had submitted his resignation before the suspension order was announced.
Amit Shah calls deaths an accident
Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah referred to the deaths as an “accident” and said such things happen. “In a big country like India, many such tragedies have taken place. It is not the first such incident,” the Rajya Sabha MP said at an event in Bengaluru. “It is the Congress’ job to demand resignations,” he added.
Kafeel Khan made a scapegoat, say AIIMS doctors
Resident doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi said Dr Kafeel Khan, who was sacked as the nodal officer at the Department of Pediatrics at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital on Saturday, was made a scapegoat, PTI reported.
“With great pain we have to say that once again a doctor has been made a scapegoat for the infrastructural lapse and failure of the government,” PTI quoted President of the Resident Doctors’ Association at AIIMS Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti as saying.
They have also accused the Uttar Pradesh government of “gross neglect of public health.” Who should be held accountable if oxygen and other surgical instruments were not made available, the doctors asked. “I request politicians not to spoil this relationship between the patient and the doctor to hide their incompetency,” Bhatti said.
AAP demands murder charges against Adityanath
The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday accused the Uttar Pradesh government of criminal negligence and demanded murder charges against Chief Minister Adityanath. Party leader Sanjay Singh said there was enough evidence at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital to suggest that the deaths were a case of murder due to criminal negligence, PTI reported.
He said that the chief minister, health minister and other officials knew that the company supplying liquid oxygen to the hospital was not being paid. “Despite that if the oxygen supply arrangements were not made...it is clearly a case of criminal negligence and murder of innocent children,” Singh said.