The Gorakhpur mass infanticide

Over seventy infants have died in less than a week in a government-run medical college and hospital at Gorakhpur.  Nobody disputes the fact of their deaths. But there is considerable disagreement as to the cause of their death: whether it was due to oxygen supply having run out or whether it was due to encephalitis or whether it was due to negligence of doctors or hospital staff. An inquiry has been ordered and it can only be hoped that the probe will find out the real causes of this tragedy and fix responsibility for the tragedy on those responsible, from bureaucrats to doctors to oxygen suppliers or anyone else. As things stand there is no doubt that attempts will be made to influence the course of the inquiry in various ways. An explanation has also to be sought why not a single autopsy was done and the bodies of the dead infants were allowed to be carried away by their parents. Autopsy would have established the exact cause of their deaths.
The oxygen supplying company claims it had written to all the concerned authorities to pay their arrear bills which amounted to nearly sixty lakh rupees. The Director-General of Medical Education, UP has denied there was any oxygen shortage. Others have suggested there was a ‘nexus’ between some top officials of the hospital and the oxygen suppliers, that the company supplying oxygen cylinders used to pay a certain per cent of cut money or commission to some officials and the latter had demanded a higher commission which the supplier did not agree to. All these aspects have to be gone into. The impartiality of the probe has to be ensured. Some political parties have suggested a court-directed probe. It is a suggestion worth considering.
What has become apparent since the first deaths occurred and soon took the form of a great tragedy, is that everybody is trying to save his own skin by passing the buck to others. Some officials have gone to the absurd extent of claiming that such deaths during this time of the year were natural and happened every year, so there is was nothing unusual about it. The official spokespersons of the BJP which rules UP are busier defending the Chief Minister, the Health Ministers in the State and at the Centre than expressing shock and anger at the death of so many babies. Politics and party interests could not sink to lower depths.

Wednesday, 16 August, 2017