Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday said that the state government has formed a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary to probe the death of 63 children at Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, allegedly due to lack oxygen supply, and strict action will be taken against those found guilty.
"We have formed a committee led by Chief Secretary and it will submit a report soon. The committee will probe the incident and strict action will be taken against those found guilty," the Chief Minister said after visiting the BRD medical college in the city. He was accompanied by Union Health Minister JP Nadda who said the Centre has sent a team of specialist doctors to the hospital.
Yogi said he had visited the hospital on August 9 and the issue of shortage in oxygen supply was not raised in the high-level meeting that he held. He said Gorakhpur has been suffering from Japanese encephalitis for a long time and as a local MP, he has fought against it from street to Parliament.
The Chief Minister turned emotional while talking to media and said "nobody can be more sensitive towards those children than me."
Attacking the Congress for politicising a sensitive issue, he said that previous UPA government at the Centre did not provide adequate help to Gorakhpur saying it was a state matter.
"When Ghulam Nabi Azad was Union Health Minister, he came here and said that the Centre cannot do anything in the matter as it is a state subject," Yogi said.
"Those whose sensitivity has died are now trying to add salt to the wound by raising the sensitive issue unnecessarily."
Nadda, who accompanied the Chief Minister to the hospital, said the Centre will provide every possible help to the state government in the matter. Expressing concern over the cases of Japanese encephalitis, Nadda said the Centre is sensitive towards the issue and a research centre will help in solving the long-standing problem in the region.
The Congress today demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the death of children, alleging that the Yogi Adityanath government, through "operation cover-up", was attempting to bury the truth.
The party said according to reports that have emerged till now, the unusually high number of deaths occurred due to neglect and mismanagement, and not due to any disease as is being claimed by the BJP government in the state.
"The Chief Minister, the Health Minister, the principal of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College are all responsible for the deaths. The UP government has blood on its hands. And now they have launched an operation cover-up," Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill told a press conference here.
The Chief Secretary-level probe ordered by the government was an "eyewash", Shergill said, demanding an independent probe, under the supervision of a Supreme Court judge.
"How can an accused probe allegations against himself?" he wondered, referring to the probe ordered by the Uttar Pradesh government.
Yesterday, Adityanath had rejected reports that the children died due to shortage of oxygen. He asserted that no one will be allowed to go scot-free and stern action will be taken against those responsible.
The Principal of the BRD Medical College, who was suspended following the death of 30 infants within a span of 48 hours since August 10, today resigned from the post. Dr PK Singh, Principal of Rajkiya Medical College, Ambedkar Nagar, has been given additional charge of BRD Medical College.
Confirming the resignation of Mishra from the post of the BRD medical college principal, UP Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh said, "Yes, he has resigned. But no good, because we have already suspended him and initiated enquiry of his misdoings."
In his letter to the Director General of Medical Education and Training, the principal said that he tendered his resignation from the post taking the moral responsibility for the recent death of 30 children admitted in the hospital's paediatric ward.
Earlier, Singh and UP Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon had said that Mishra was suspended for his "irresponsible act" of allegedly delaying payment to the supplier of oxygen cylinders.
The funds to clear the oxygen supplier’s dues was transferred to the latter only on Friday, after the deaths grabbed the nation’s attention.