The Congress vice president said the children died because of the shortage of oxygen in the government-run hospital
Gorakhpur: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday termed deaths of more than 100 children at a Gorakhpur hospital a “national tragedy” caused by the Uttar Pradesh government’s apathy.
The Congress leader was speaking to media at the eastern UP city after visiting the families of four children who died in the government-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College.
He visited the tragedy-struck four villages, despite a flood scare, on the outskirt of the city.
“After the visit to villages and meeting the victims’ families, it is clear that the kids died because of lack of oxygen and neglect,” Gandhi told the press conference.
He claimed people used artificial manual breathing unit (AMBU) bags to support respiration in ailing children as the oxygen supply was disrupted.
About 105 children admitted at the hospital’s neonatal, encephalitis and general paediatric wards died over a week after the tragedy struck on August 9 at the hospital, which faced oxygen shortage over non-payment of dues.
The deaths sparked nationwide outrage. The National Human Rights Commission also recently issued a notice to the state government seeking a detailed report on the tragedy along with the steps taken for relief and rehabilitation of the affected families as well as action taken against the guilty officers within four weeks.
The Commission observed that the deaths amount to serious violation of right to life and health of the victims.
The BJP government in the state though admitted there was shortage of oxygen in the hospital, denied it caused the deaths.
“It ‘s clear that it was the UP government-made tragedy,” the Congress vice president said, asking Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to “stop covering up the incident.”
Stating that the tragedy was an indicator of the prevailing “health-care system in India,” Gandhi also took a dig at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Modi-ji talks about new India. Is this the new India? We don’t want his new India. We want an India where people take their kids to hospitals and come out from there being happy,” he said.
The Congress leader, however, did not visit the hospital where the children died.
“I called off my visit to the BRD Medical College as I realised that CM Yogi’s visit there had caused a lot of trouble to the ailing children. So I called off my visit in the interest of patients and children,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who accompanied Gandhi had earlier said: “In spite of being five-time MP from Gorakhpur, he (Adityanath) did nothing for the hospital.”
Gandhi first visited the house of Brahmdev Yadav at Baghaghada village near Gorakhpur city. Brahmdev lost his twins, who were born on August 1, on August 9 and 10 in the tragedy.
Shortly before his arrival at the village, there were reports of the Rapti river overflowing at Nausadh embankment barely 1.5 km from the village, situated in a low-lying area.
Gandhi visited the bereaved family, amid apprehension that floodwaters might enter the village, after his security staff surveyed the areas.
Earlier in the day, Adityanath had criticised the visit saying the tragedy-struck city should not be turned into a ‘picnic spot.’ His comment drew criticism from the Congress, which called it “unfortunate.”