RTI response reveals BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur ran out of oxygen cylinders before 60 children died during treatment
The RTI was filed by activist Sanjay Sharma who claimed that the state was covering up their missteps relating to the tragedy, where over 60 children died.
An RTI response has revealed that BRD Medical College Hospital in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur was facing a shortage of oxygen cylinders on 11 August, 2017, where more than 60 children died in the encephalitis and neo-natal ward. The incident sparked a national debate about the dismal state of government hospitals.
The RTI was filed by Lucknow-based activist Sanjay Sharma, who claimed that the government was trying to cover up their missteps in relation to the tragedy.
Sanjay Sharma was quoted by News18 as saying, “The RTI response by BRD stating that oxygen cylinders were brought from outside makes it clear that there was a shortage of oxygen on August 11. The information which was asked last year has been made available in July this year and that too without the information of the probe report. If everything was right, then why aren’t they sharing the outcome of probe report?”
After the incident occurred in August 2017, the Uttar Pradesh government had contested that oxygen supply had only dipped temporarily, but there was no shortage of oxygen in the hospital. However, on 4 July, 2018, the state accepted that hospital had a shortage of oxygen and it had got oxygen cylinders from two unauthorised persons, National Herald reported. The BRD Medical College also accepted that Kafeel Khan, the former nodal officer of the hospital, managed to get six oxygen cylinders from Gorakhpur's Anandlok Nursing Home, and four others, according to the report.
Khan was unabashed in blaming the administration for not releasing funds to the oxygen suppliers. Later, he was arrested and sent to jail along with the principal of the BRD College and seven others. Khan was charged under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, Live Law reported. After spending approximately eight months in jail, Khan got bail on 24 April, 2018 from the Allahabad High Court. He held the government responsible for the deaths of the children.
Speaking to News18, Khan said, “[The incident] is nothing but government sponsored victimisation. Whatever happened on the night of 10 August, 2017, I will always call it a massacre and that was a fault of those who got 14 reminders in six months from Pushpa Sales for the payment.”
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