Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports over the Gorakhpur hospital tragedy, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the government of Uttar Pradesh seeking detailed report over the deaths of at least 70 children at Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, Gorakhpur.
The NHRC has granted the state government four weeks to file its report over the steps taken for relief and rehabilitation of affected families and the action taken against the guilty officers.
"The notice follows the suo motu cognisance taken by the Commission of media reports hinting at negligence in the supply of liquid oxygen at the hospital which resulted in the tragedy," NHRC said in a statement.
"The Commission has observed that reported deaths, in such a large number in a government-run hospital, amount to serious violation of Right to Life and Health of the innocent victims. This indicates towards gross callousness on part of the hospital administration and the Medical Education and Health Department of the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Earlier also, it has come across several instances of deaths in the hospital due to Japanese Encephalitis," it said.
At least 70 children have died in BRD college since last Thursday after a snap in oxygen supply in the hospital. Most of the dead were hospitalised due to fever caused by Japanese Encephalitis, which is widespread in the state and the cow belt.
It is to be noted that the issue of deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis was discussed with the Chief Secretary and other senior officers of the state government in detail during the open hearing and camp sitting held from Aug. 9 to 11in Lucknow for the cases of Uttar Pradesh. However, in spite of assurance given by the state administration to NHRC, the situation has not improved.
"According to various media reports, carried since 12th to 14th August, 2017, by most of the Hindi and English newspapers, the private firm, contracted to supply liquid oxygen to the BRD Medical College, stopped the supplies, as it was not paid the outstanding dues of almost Rs. 70 lakh and the result was tragic deaths of about 60 children, admitted in the neo-natal and Encephalitis wards of the hospital.
"As per media reports, the magisterial inquiry has been ordered by the administration to ascertain the cause of death. In the last three decades, Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) have claimed over 50,000 lives in the eastern Uttar Pradesh, mostly in Gorakhpur district. It is further mentioned that total 124 deaths were reported in the hospital till 8th August, 2017. 641 children died last year and 491 in the year 2015," the commission said in the statement.