Patna : Angry relatives of patients admitted in Bihar hospitals for encephalitis raised slogans against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who was on a visit to the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, two weeks after Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) outbreak in the state.
The Chief Minister, who interacted with doctors and parents of the ailing children, was greeted with slogans of ‘Go Back’ as protesters questioned the state government’s negligence in handling the epidemic which has claimed the lives of 108 children so far.
Easlier, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited the hospital to take stock of the situation. His cavalcade too was stopped by protesters while he was returning from Muzaffarpur to Patna and black flags were waved at him. The police then resorted to mild baton charge to disperse the crowd.
The National Human Rights Commission had also sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and Bihar government on Monday over reports of increasing deaths of children due to the disease.
In spite of reported measures taken by the government agencies, deaths of children in such a large number indicate towards a “possible flaw” in proper implementation of the vaccination and awareness programmes.
The epidemic broke out in early June but the state government maintained that the children had died due to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by extremely low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance.
The issue has attracted a political tirade against the Nitish Kumar Government with the opposition blaming Nitish Kumar for ignoring the epidemic.
The Congress on Monday hit out at the Centre and the Bihar government, saying better preparedness could have saved lives. Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also posted a video on Twitter in which Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey is heard at a meeting asking for the score of the India versus Pakistan World Cup cricket match on Sunday.
“Bihar’s Health Minister Mangal Pandey seems more worried about cricket score than the death of children due to Encephalitis,” Surjewala tweeted and tagged the video.