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Chhattisgarh sterilisation drive goes wrong: 11 die, 61 in hospitals

At least 11 women have succumbed to post-surgical negligence after attending a mass sterilisation camp at a government hospital in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh.

According to official figures, eight women had died till Monday night. Three died on Tuesday. All are below 32 years. The number is likely to rise as 61 more women are admitted to different hospitals and the condition of half of them is critical. Congress state president Bhupesh Baghel has claimed 17 women have died in the incident.

Eighty-three women attended the camp — organised by the state health department — at Nemichand Jain Cancer and Research Centre at Pendari village — around 130km from state capital the Raipur. Laparoscopic surgeon R K Gupta supervised the camp. Reportedly, the doctors performed surgery on exactly double the number of women than the target that had been set.

The state government has suspended the chief medical and health officer of Bilaspur, R K Bhange, the state programme convener for family planning and the block medical officer of Takhatpur. A compensation of Rs 4 lakh has been announced to the kin of each of the victim beside Rs 50,000 and free treatment for those hospitalised.

Health Minister Amar Agrawal said timely intervention of the administration on Monday night saved many lives but the Congress has demanded his resignation on moral grounds.

Chief Minister Raman Singh rushed to Bilaspur on Tuesday morning and met the patients. “A three-member committee has been constituted to investigate the incident. Strict action will be taken against the guilty.” The chief minister has also issued an order to register a criminal offence against the camp supervisor.

The Congress has called for a Chhattisgarh strike on Wednesday. Party president Sonia Gandhi expressed “deep shock and grief over the unfortunate incident of deaths and critical illness of unsuspecting women”, while spokesperson Shobha Oza said the incident deserves a judicial inquiry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who left for Myanmar in the morning to attend Asean and East Asia summit, spoke to Chief Minister Singh. “The PM has asked Singh to ensure a thorough investigation and action in the entire issue,” the PMO said in a tweet.

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