Responding to an urgent discussion on an incident in Mehsana district where at least three persons died after consuming bhang, a preparation of cannabis, on Mahashivratri on March 7, Health Minister Nitin Patel said that since they died after consuming an intoxicant, the government could not grant their families any compensation.
The minister also clarified that Inspector R R Patel of Kadi Town Police Station, which has jurisdiction over Budasan village, died due to renal failure and not due to the bhang poisoning as suspected. An urgent discussion over the issue sought by four MLAs, including Congress MLA from Kadi Ramesh Chavda.
During the discussion, Chavda asked whether the government was planning to award any compensation to the families of the deceased. “They had consumed the bhang under religious faith on the occasion of Mahashivratri. Does the government want to award compensation to their families?,” Chavda asked.
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Replying to the query, the Health Minister said bhang is an intoxicant and the government does not have a policy to award compensation to the families of the deceased in such cases.
When Opposition Congress MLAs mentioned R R Patel’s case and cited him as one of the victims in the tragedy, Patel said, “R R Patel died of renal failure and not due to consumption of bhang.”
Congress MLA Punjabhai Vansh sought to know which component of the bhang mixture was poisonous, but the question remained unanswered.
Before this, Patel made a statement on the issue, giving details about the government’s “prompt” action as soon as it learnt about the bhang poisoning in Budasan.
He said 545 fell sick after the bhang consumption — 283 of them were given OPD treatment whereas, 262 were provided in-door hospital treatment. Currently, 76 patients are under treatment of which six are at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and five are at Kidney Research Institute in Ahmedabad.