Congress calls Chhattisgarh bandh, Modi calls up CM as sterilization death toll goes up to 11
Raipur/New Delhi: The Congress today gave a call for Chhattisgarh bandh tomorrow to protest against the death of women at a sterilisation camp in Bilaspur, where the death toll has gone up to 11.
Eighty-three women were sterilized, out of which 11 died, and 32 women are still fighting for their lives due to infection and/or blood and fluid loss.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today issued a statement demanding action against those guilty.
"Extremely saddened to hear of the deaths in a sterilization camp in Chattisgarh. My condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy.
"The government must take strict action against the guilty and ensure the best possible treatment and care for those who are still in a critical condition", Rahul Gandhi said.
From Myanmar, Prime Minister Narenedra Modi, who is on a 10-day foreign tour, spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister raman Singh on the unfortunate tragedy and asked him to ensure a thorough investigation and action against those guilty.
Four doctors have already been suspended, while the services of Health Director Dr Kamalpreet has been terminated. 47 women are presently being treated in hospital.
Chief Minister Raman Singh and Health Minister Amar Agrawal visited hospitals in Bilaspur and met the victims. They promised action against those responsible.
Returning to Raipur, the chief minister appealed to the opposition not to make politics out of this unfortunate tragedy.
He however made a controversial remark saying : "How is the Health Minister guilty? Did he carry out the surgeries?"
Leader of Opposition T S Singhdev and state Congress chief Mukesh Baghel staged a protest outside Civil Lines police station in Bilaspur alongwith party workers and demanded that an FIR be filed against the Health Minister.
Sources said, the women died and most of them had to be hospitalised after botched sterilisation procedure at a state-run camp.
60 women were admitted to different hospitals after they developed post-operative complications at a sterilisation camp organised by the government at a private hospital in Pendari village on the outskirts of Bilaspur town on Saturday, District Collector Siddharth Komal Pardeshi said most of the women who died were all below 32 years of age. They died from complications, he added.
Chief Minister Raman Singh announced a high-level probe and suspended four officials, including the Chief Medical and Health Officer of Bilaspur.
He ordered registration of FIR against the surgeon under whose supervision the sterilisation camp was organised at Nemichand Jain Cancer and Research Centre where 83 women had undergone surgical procedures for sterilisation.
The state government initially announced a compensation fo Rs 2 lakh to the kin of each of the victims but the Chief Minister raised it to Rs 4 lakh.
Rs 50,000 would be given to those undergoing treatment the cost of which will be borne by the government.
Chief Medical and Health Officer of Bilaspur R K Bhange, laparoscopic surgeon Dr R K Gupta, State Programme Convener, family planning, Dr K C Urao and Block Medical Officer, Takhatpur, Dr Pramod Tiwari have been suspended in connection with the incident.
The Chief Minister said prima facie the tragedy had occurred due to negligence and ordered registration of an FIR against Gupta under whose supervision the camp was held and surgeries performed.
"Its a very unfortunate incident. Prime facie it appears that the incident occurred due to negligence (by doctors). A detailed enquiry will be conducted keeping in view all angles including the quality of the medicines, standard of the surgery, post operative measures and others," he said.
A three-member committee has been constituted to investigate the incident, he said.
Deputy Director, Health Services, Amar Singh said preliminary examination suggested hypovolemic shock, an emergency condition in which severe blood and fluid loss make the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, or septic infection as possible causes for the deaths.
However, the exact reason would be known only after autopsies are performed.
The women, who had been operated upon, had been discharged after providing medicines the same night but within 24 hours of the surgery most of them began vomiting and complained of abdominal pain following which 60 were rushed to different hospitals.
CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat said "it is an indication of the extreme callousness of the authorities of that state.
"After Emergency we had thought that target based family planning programmes were a thing of the past but the state has continued to depend on targets. This is direct result of target orientation because regardless of the consequences to the woman, they just want to fulfill the targets."