The number of children dying in the hospital tragedy at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, rose to 63 on Saturday. In a desperate act of damage management, Uttar Pradesh Health Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon announced that the principal of Baba Raghav Das Medical College, Rajiv Mishra, has been suspended with "immediate effect".
He added that a probe, led by the chief secretary, has also been ordered. Tandon told reporters here that "stringent action" would be taken against those responsible for the "tragic and painful" incident after the probe panel submits its report.
According to reports from the PMO, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a very serious view of the grave developments and is personally monitoring the situation. He was in constant touch with the Central and state authorities in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, throughout the day. Union Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel and the health secretary would take stock of the situation in Gorakhpur, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.
Reacting to the unprecedented developments, the Congress on Saturday held the Uttar Pradesh government "responsible" and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and a probe by a Supreme Court judge. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, visited Baba Raghav Das Medical College, along with party colleagues.
Azad said the probe ordered by the state government and the suspension of the college principal is just "an ey-ewash" and demanded that the matter should be probed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court. He said that if the matter is properly investigated, the state government would be found to be squarely responsible for the "gross negligence" that led to the death of infants. He also said that the truth would come out only if an all-party delegation held an inquiry and the report would come in a week's time.
"This incident took place due to the laxity on the part of state government. The state government is fully responsible for it. The chief minister, health minister and the health secretary must immediately resign and doctors should not be blamed for this," he said.
On his part, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a tweet, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought information about the Gorakhpur incident. On his directives, Union Health Minister J P Nadda and MoS Anupriya Patel also sought information of the incident."
According to the official Twitter account of the UP chief minister (@CMOfficeUP), Adityanath has directed that a detailed probe be conducted into the incident and strict action be ensured.
Attacking the chief minister, the SP and the BSP demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident. Both the parties have decided to send teams to Gorakhpur to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
BSP chief Mayawati said, "As many as 60 children have died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur. This is an example of gross criminal negligence of the BJP government."
No child died due to oxygen shortage, says CM Adityanath
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Saturday night that oxygen shortage did not lead to the deaths in the government hospital in Gorakhpur, his home district. He told a hurriedly convened Press conference here, "It is a very emotional matter for me as I have been raising the issue of encephalitis since long." He adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed concern. The chief minister addressed the press conference after holding an emergency meeting with senior officials and two senior ministerial colleagues he had sent to Gorakhpur earlier in the day to look into the matter.