The Uttar Pradesh government has lodged first information reports (FIRs) against nine people, including government doctors and a private oxygen supplier, in connection with the deaths of several children undergoing treatment at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College hospital in Gorakhpur.
At least 30 children convalescing in neonatal and critical care wards had died on August 10 and August 11, allegedly due to the sudden snapping of the oxygen supply
over outstanding bills amounting to Rs 68 lakh.
While the state government denied that the deaths occurred due to the disruption in oxygen supply, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
had constituted a high-level committee under state Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar to probe the incident and give a report for further action. The chief minister had assured exemplary action in the case, which has subjected his government to criticism, especially for the fact that Gorakhpur is Adityanath's parliamentary constituency and he is representing it for a fifth straight term.
The chief secretary-led committee had submitted its report to the Chief Minister on Tuesday (August 22), after which Adityanath had directed for the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) against the persons found guilty of aggravating the situation and indulging in corrupt practises.
Consequently, an FIR was lodged on Wednesday at the Hazratganj Police Station in Lucknow against nine persons, including Lucknow-based oxygen supplier Pushpa's Sales Director Manish Bhandari.
The case was registered on a complaint by UP Director General of Medical Education (DGME) K K Gupta under six different sections pertaining to the IPC (sections 420, 308, 120B), Anti-Corruption Act, and Indian Medical Council Act (section 15).
The other accused are Uday Pratap (audit department), Sanjay (BRD clerk), Sudheer (BRD clerk), Dr R K Mishra
(suspended principal of BRD medical College), Dr Purnima Shukla (Dr Mishra’s wife), Dr Kafeel Khan (HoD children ward), Gajanan Jaiswal (chief pharmacist) and Dr Satish (HoD anaesthesia and oxygen supply
According to sources, the case would now be transferred to Gorakhpur’s Gulariha police station for further investigation since the BRD Medical College
comes under its jurisdiction.
The chief secretary’s report had also claimed that the deaths were not related to a snapping of the oxygen supply.
However, it pointed to glaring and rampant corruption and a system of commissions and kickbacks in the supply of oxygen and other medical supplies.
It had also found that the guilty officials had deliberately held back payments to the oxygen supplier in order to extract their share even though the hospital had adequate funds to settle dues within the stipulated time period.
Earlier, the National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had also issued a notice to the state government over these deaths and sought a detailed report on the matter, apart from the steps taken for relief and rehabilitation of the victims’ families, as well as action taken against the guilty, within four weeks.
The Commission issued the notice after taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, which purportedly hinted at negligence in the supply of liquid oxygen that resulted in the tragedy. The human rights watchdog observed that a large number of reported deaths in a government-run hospital amounted to a serious violation of right to life and right to health of the victims.
In the past three decades, Japanese Encephalitis
and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome have claimed over 50,000 lives in Eastern UP, especially in Gorakhpur.