The owner of a company that supplied oxygen to state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur was arrested on Sunday in connection with the deaths of 63 children. “Manish Bhandari, the proprietor of Pushpa Sales, was arrested from Deoria bypass road,” Gorakhpur Senior Superintendent of Police Anirudh Sidhartha Pankaj told PTI.
Bhandari was absconding for a long time, said the police. On Friday, the anti-corruption court had declared him an absconder, and issued orders to attach his properties.
At least 63 children had died at the hospital in August. There were allegations that the deaths were caused by a disruption in the oxygen supply over unpaid bills. However, the state government had denied the charges.
With Bhandari’s arrest, all the nine people named in the First Information Report have been taken to custody. On September 11, former head of the anaesthesia department at Baba Raghav Das hospital Dr Satish had surrendered. Before his arrest, the police had on September 9 arrested Sudhir Pandey, a clerk working at the hospital. Prior to this, on September 2, the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force arrested Dr Kafeel Khan, the former nodal officer at the hospital’s Department of Paediatrics.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had called for criminal action against Dr Satish, Dr Khan and Dr Rajeev Mishra, the former principal of BRD Medical College and Hospital. On August 31, the Gorakhpur Anti-Corruption Court had sentenced Mishra and his wife Poornima to 14 days in judicial custody.
Three separate FIRs had been filed on August 22, dealing with corruption charges, negligence leading to the children’s deaths and the hospital’s doctors having private practices.