Union Minister Harsh Vardhan Named in Bihar Children Deaths Case

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Children showing symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) being treated at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, Saturday, June 15, 2019. — PTI

Caravan News

PATNA — Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey face charges of negligence leading to the deaths of 82 children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the past fortnight as a case has been filed against them in a court in Muzaffarpur on Monday.

The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has reportedly reached 97 in Muzaffarpur and the adjoining districts in Bihar. Most of the casualties are between the age group of 1-10.

Social activist Tamanna Hashmi filed the case in the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate’s (CJM) court on Monday, IANS reports.

The petition said that Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey failed to fulfill their duties to control the outbreak of AES, while both had done nothing to create awareness and sensitise people in the affected areas despite the fact that AES had been killing children for years.

The court has fixed June 24 for hearing the case.

Hashmi said that he has filed the case against the accused, Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey, under 323, 308 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“Large number of children died due to negligence and lack of infrastructure to give them timely proper treatment”, he said.

In 2014, a similar AES outbreak claimed 379 lives. Harsh Vardhan was the Union Health Minister at the centre and had visited the hospital and took serious note of the matter and also announced a number of measures to contain the crisis, but sadly the situation on the ground has not changed.

Harsh Vardhan, accompanied by the Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and the Bihar Health Minister, visited the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur on Sunday to review the situation arising out of sudden spurt in the number of deaths.

He, however, reportedly did not find any fault with the lack of facilities at the hospital and backed the doctors for their efficiency in dealing with the crisis.

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