It’s Oxygen Interruption that Caused Children to Die, says FIR even as CM is in Denial: Gorakhpur

The report in a way concludes that the deaths did not occur only due to interruption of the oxygen supply, but also due to administrative lapses.

Newsclick Image by Nitesh Kumar

The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh on August 12 said that oxygen supply to Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College and Hospital was disrupted on the intervening night of August 10-11. But maintained that it did not cause death of children. It seems as if the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

The FIR – which is in possession of NewsClick – lodged against nine persons (mostly doctors and staff) at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on August 23 has charged most of them with “dereliction of duty”, “lapses in the hospital” and “corruption” that led to the “interruption in supply of oxygen, causing tragic deaths of 30 children” on the fateful night.

But an action report – a copy of which is available with NewsClick – by the Chief Minister’s Office has not revealed the actual reasons of the death. The report in a way concludes that the deaths did not occur mainly due to interruption of the oxygen supply, but administrative lapses.

Interestingly, the CMO report has extensively quoted a chief secretary-headed enquiry committee report but preferred to keep mum on exact reasons cited by it for such a large number of loss of precious lives.

The CMO has just highlighted the actions recommended by the probe panel, that comprised of Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar, Secretary (Health) Alok Kumar, Secretary Finance Department Mukesh Mittal and Medical Superintendent (SGPGI) Dr Hem Chand. It has not gone into the details of the findings of the committee on the exact reasons for the deaths.

The then principal of BRD Medical College RK Mishra, his wife Poornima Shukla, Oxygen in charge and HoD (anesthesia) and Dr Satish have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code – 409, 308, 120 (b) and 420, for their “irresponsible behaviour” in the disruption of oxygen supply to the hospital. Relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Medical Council Act were also invoked.

“Dr Mishra and Dr Satish left headquarters without any information, thereby failed to address the emergency situation,” said the FIR.

A homoeopathic medical officer, Poonam Shukla has been accused of interference in the hospital administration and of seeking a commission in the purchase of surgical equipment.

Dr Kafeel Khan, the nodal officer of 100-bed acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) ward, has been charged with the “criminal prosecution” for “defying procurement norms” and “wrongfully arranging the oxygen cylinders from his wife’s nursing home and bringing wrong facts before the media”.

He has also been charged for “hiding facts in his affidavit on the procurement of medicines and chemicals filed before the chief medical officer, Gorakhpur, and the CAG that conducted special audit”.

A Grim Reminder

Out of 1,256 deaths of children that the government-run BRD Medical College has witnessed this year, August alone has witnessed the deaths of 296 children, especially in the encephalitis, the infant and the children’s wards, said PK Singh, principal of the college. This was the maximum number of deaths recorded in a month so far.

“Of the many children coming to us in an extremely critical condition, some survive for barely an hour,” said Singh in a PTI report.

The hospital saw 152 deaths of infants in January, 122 in February, 159 in March, 123 in April, 139 in May, 137 in June, 128 in July and 296 till August 29.




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