FORTY-TWO children died over two days until Tuesday at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College and Hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Top officials at the hospital said seven children were suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). The others, the official said, died of other diseases.
The news coincided with former BRD Medical College principal Dr Rajeev Mishra, and his wife Purnima Shukla arrest from Kanpur in connection with the death of over 60 children admitted between August 7 and 11, some of them allegedly due to lack of oxygen.
Mishra and Shukla — the latter is senior homeopathic medical officer at Government Homeopathic Hospital at Gola, Gorakhpur — had been suspended earlier. They were among nine people booked in the case.
Special Task Force (STF) Inspector General Amitabh Yash said the two were arrested from Saket Nagar area of Kanpur in the afternoon. A police team from Gorakhpur, led by Assistant Superintendent of Police Charu Nigam, left for Kanpur later in the day to take custody of the two.
In the case of deaths earlier this month, the authorities had maintained that the children had died from encephalitis and other medical reasons, and not due to a snap in oxygen supply.
Prior to Tuesday’s report, the hospital had maintained that 200 children had died at the institution this month.
Officiating principal of the hospital P K Singh said, “Until midnight on August 27, there were 342 patients in the paediatrics department, of whom 17 died. Until midnight on August 28, there were 344 patients on bed; 25 of them died.”
According to records of the paediatrics department, of 17 deaths on Sunday, six had died at the NICU and 11 at the PICU. None of these deaths, according to records, occurred due to encephalitis. On Monday, of 25 deaths reported, 15 were reported in PICU and 10 in NICU.
Singh said that of these 25 deaths, seven were due to AES. “The others died due to various ailments. Records of August 29 will be available on August 30,” he said.
Ex-principal, wife to be brought to Gorakhpur today
“A police team led by Charu Nigam has left for Kanpur. The team will take custody of Dr Rajeev Mishra and Purnima Shukla. We have enough evidence against them,” Gorakhpur SSP Satyarth Aniruddha Pankaj said.
Investigating officer of the case and Cantonment area circle officer in Gorakhpur, Abhishek Kumar Singh, said, “The police team will seek their transit remand from the local court tomorrow (Wednesday) to bring them to Gorakhpur.”
Following investigation by the state chief secretary into the deaths of over 60 children, an FIR was lodged over the deaths at Lucknow’s Hazratganj Police Station against nine people. The case was later transferred to Gorakhpur.
Gorakhpur police had sought the help of STF to trace all nine accused: Mishra and Shukla, Dr Kafeel Khan and Dr Satish, four clerical staff, and the owner of M/s Pushpa Sales, the company responsible for the supply of liquid oxygen at the hospital. All eight officials attached with the government-run hospital have been suspended.
Patients from neighbouring districts of UP, Bihar as well as Nepal come to BRD Medical College and Hospital for treatment. In most cases, it takes them more than two hours to reach the hospital. While the government has turned primary and community health centres into encephalitis treatment centres, parents come to BRD hospital due to lack of paediatricians at most of these centres.