Probe Into Gorakhpur Deaths Reveals Fudging of Oxygen Records, Puts Blame on Two Doctors

The Gorakhpur district magistrate's report also demanded strict action against the oxygen supplier for cutting the supply of an "emergency service" while refraining to put any blame on the Adityanath-led UP gover

New Delhi: An inquiry into the recent deaths at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur has found oxygen deprivation as the cause and pinned blame for mismanagement on two senior doctors. The report submitted by Gorakhpur district magistrate Rajeev Rautela, however, stopped short of blaming the Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh, Hindustan Times reported.

In the last week, over 70 children – including 23 in a single day – have died at the Gorakhpur hospital after oxygen supply was cut off. The state government had, however, given 23 natural causes for the children’s deaths.

While the National Human Rights Commission has demanded a probe into the matter, saying that the incident revealed “gross callousness” on the part of the hospital and the state administration, BJP chief Amit Shah attempted to play down the matter. “In a country of this size, there have been incidents like this before, this is not the first time this is happening,” he said, while rejecting the opposition’s call for chief minister’s Adityanath’s resignation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to the deaths in Gorakhpur as a “natural calamity” in his Independence Day speech also invited the ire of the opposition, with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad insisting that it actually was a “man-made calamity”.

According to a Times of India report, the inquiry – initiated by the state government on August 12 after the incident came to light – found overwriting in the log book related to oxygen supply and has held the supplier, Pushpa Sales, responsible. Strict action has been demanded against the supplier for stopping the oxygen supply, deemed as an “emergency service,” to the hospital.

The absence of then principal Dr R.K. Mishra and head of anaesthesia department Dr Satish Kumar from the Gorakhpur hospital on August 10, has also been questioned.

The report, according to Firstpost, also stated that Kumar – who was the point person for ensuring that there was uninterrupted oxygen flow to the wards – had not maintained the records of purchases and refilling of oxygen cylinder.

Sources revealed to the Hindustan Times that Kumar had also failed to inform the chief minister about the Rs 69 lakh that was owed to the supplier and had gone on leave after Adityanath’s August 9 visit to the medical college.

Strict action has been demanded by the district magistrate against Pushpa Sales for stopping the oxygen supply, deemed as an “emergency service,” to the hospital.

PIL seeks judicial inquiry

According to India Today, a public interest litigation filed by advocate Suneeta Sharma and social worker Kamlesh Singh in the Allahabad high court on August 16 has sought a judiciary inquiry into the incident.

The children’s deaths in the PIL have been blamed on “carelessness” of the hospital and the staff and urged action against those held responsible. Congress has also demanded an inquiry into the incident supervised by an apex court judge.