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Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: Yogi Vows Stringent Action, Opposition Wants Him Axed

The Narendra Modi government also stepped in to cool frayed tempers and announced that it would set up a regional medical centre in the city at a cost of Rs 85 crore to conduct research on ailments that afflict children.

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Updated:August 13, 2017, 11:43 PM IST
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Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: Yogi Vows Stringent Action, Opposition Wants Him Axed
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Health Minister J P Nadda at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur on Sunday. (PTI Photo)
Gorakhpur: Under fire Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday visited the government hospital in Gorakhpur where over 60 kids have died in the last five days and warned “exemplary action” against those found responsible amid calls for his resignation.

Accompanied by Union health minister JP Nadda, Yogi said that a high-level probe has been ordered to ascertain the cause of deaths. Postmortem examinations though are yet to be conducted on the bodies of the deceased, some of whom have already been buried.

“I have formed a high-level committee under the supervision of the chief secretary and a thorough probe has been ordered to check the cause of the deaths in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and the supply of oxygen,” he said. The CM said once the report is out, he would take action if lapses are found at any government hospital across the state.

Sixty three children have died at BRD Medical College Hospital since August 7, many for want of oxygen after supply was allegedly disrupted as bills were not paid to the supplier on time. At least 30 children were reported dead in the last two days alone. Many of the victims were infants who perished in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The deaths set off protests in the national capital even as Congress demanded that a murder case be registered against those whose negligence resulted in the “massacre”. Yogi, however, counselled against politicising the tragedy.

The Narendra Modi government also stepped in to cool frayed tempers and announced that it would set up a regional medical centre in the city at a cost of Rs 85 crore to conduct research on ailments that afflict children.

The UP CM said that PM Modi has extended every possible aid to the state government after he briefed him about the situation at the hospital. The Prime Minister too has been facing flak for not speaking about the tragedy.

Addressing a joint press conference after the hospital visit, Yogi said he assures that the punishment would “set a standard.” But he refused to shoulder any blame, and instead criticised the media over putting out “fake” news about the deaths.

He also made a strong pitch for a full-fledged virus research centre in Gorakhpur, an area prone to encephalitis, which has claimed several thousand lives every year over the last few years. Nadda said that he has approved the research centre, and said the planning for such an institute had started before the last parliament session.

“The geography of east UP is such that we cannot win the war against vector-borne diseases until and unless we have a full-fledged virus research centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given AIIMS, we have started it. But, there should be a full-fledged virus research centre in Gorakhpur,” Yogi said.

The chief minister said he has been “waging a war” against Japanese encephalitis for the last two decades. “I have witnessed children of east UP dying. We will not allow this to happen anymore... Who can be more sensitive to this issue (than me)? I have been raising it from the streets to Parliament...No one can understand the pain and agony more than me,” he said, voice choking with emotion.

But neither the action outlined nor the assurances swayed the Opposition, who called it too little too late. UP Congress chief Raj Babbar demanded the resignation of Adityanath as well a murder case against those responsible for the massacre. “70 children were murdered in the last four days (since August 10). The state government is responsible for their murder,” he told reporters in Lucknow.

Babbar also demanded a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for the next of kin of each child who died due to neglect at the hospital. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also visited the hospital and blamed the “careless” state government for the tragedy. He also demanded an apology from Adityanath as well as his resignation.
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