"The duty of the government is to serve and provide (good health) services. Contrary to this, the camps were not properly organised. Instead of taking responsibility for the incident, medicines (used in sterilisation camps) are being burnt. Evidence are being destroyed. They are trying to cover-up the case," the Congress Vice President told reporters after visiting the affected women here at different hospitals.
The sterilisation surgeries at government-run medical camps have so far claimed lives of 13 young women while 138 others were undergoing treatment in the home district of state Health Minister Amar Agrawal. Gandhi demanded a thorough investigation and alleged that corruption had a role in the tragedy. He also visited the family members of the deceased at Amsena village near Bilaspur.
"I met the family members of the women who lost their lives. They told me what happened. Due to (contaminated) medicines the women had to face complications. It's not just a case of negligence but its a case of corruption. It is the responsibility of the government to check such things but it has failed to do so," he alleged. 12 of the woman who died were among the 83 operated upon at Nemichand Jain Cancer and Research Centre aT Pendhari village of Takhatpur block on November 8.
Chaiti Bai was the lone casualty from Pendra block where around 56 women underwent surgeries at three different camps on November 10. The Raman Singh government has constituted a single-member commission under retired judge Anita Jha to probe the cases. Laparoscopic surgeon R K Gupta, who had performed sterilisation procedures on 83 women in one of the camps at Pendari village in Bilaspur in a matter of few hours, has been arrested.
Also, in a crackdown on manufacturers of medicines used at the medical camps where the surgeries took place, the director of Mahawar Pharma Pvt Ltd, Ramesh Mahawar his son Sumit were arrested yesterday under section 420.
"First thing, it should be found out what had happened. Certainly, something was amiss somewhere. The government is responsible and the Health Minister (is responsible)," Gandhi said adding, "I felt very sad. The entire family suffers when the mother suffers."
The Congress has sought the resignation of the state's health minister Amar Agrawal. The minister, however, rejected the demand and added that the party will decide his fate. "Whenever an incident takes place, it is the responsibility of the government....I take moral responsibility for the incident. There is no question of resignation. I don't take decisions. It is for the party to decide," he said. He said that protocol set for sterilisation procedure had been violated.