A joint investigation by the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government into 14 deaths in the surgery ward of a hospital attached to the Banaras Hindu University has found that industrial-grade gas was administered to patients instead of anaesthesia, The Times of India reported on Thursday. The Allahabad High Court had ordered an inquiry into the incident that took place at Sundar Lal Hospital from June 6 to June 8.

“It has been found that nitrous oxide was being used at this hospital,” a report by the Uttar Pradesh Food Safety and Drug Administration said. “This gas doesn’t come under the category of allowed drugs.” A private firm in Allahabad – Parerhat Industrial Enterprises – which did not have any license to produce or sell any medical gas, had supplied the nitrous oxide, the investigation revealed.

Parerhat Industrial Enterprises’ Director Ashok Kumar Bajpai is the father of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Allahabad North MLA Harshvardhan Bajpai, who owns Rs 1.21 crore in shares in the firm. Harshvardhan Bajpai dismissed the charges that nitrous oxide had caused the deaths at Sundar Lal Hospital. “The same gas is being supplied to hospitals at King George’s Medical University in Lucknow and Motilal Nehru Medical College in Allahabad,” he said. However, he admitted that the firm does not have a licence to supply nitrous oxide.

A First Information Report alleging medical negligence at Sundar Lal Hospital was separately registered at Lanka Police Station in Varanasi on June 14, after a complaint by the family of Allahabad resident Mehraj Ahmed. Ahmed had died allegedly after being administered anaesthesia, prior to a surgery to remove kidney stones. Four doctors, including head of the anaesthesia wing Dr P Ranjan, were named in the FIR.