In a massive impact, Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate Suryakant Tiwari has ordered an inquiry against Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and state health minister Mangal Pandey. The order came while hearing a case against the two of negligence in the deaths of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). As many as 180 children have died in the state till June 24 due to the fatal disease.
This comes after the Supreme Court has also pulled Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government and the Centre amid the rising death toll of the children and has asked to submit a response on the deaths within seven days (July 1).
The apex court bench comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai has directed the Bihar government to file an affidavit in the matter. The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days in the apex court.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Sushil Modi have been silent about the Encephalitis outbreak, with the former slamming the media saying it to 'stay in limits' and the latter asking reporters to 'leave the press conference if they want to ask about the death of the children'.
Union Minister for State for Health Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey evaded the media on the issues of the deaths of children in Bihar due to encephalitis on Saturday. Similarly, state health minister Mangal Pandey also evaded questions when asked about the skeletal at the hospital premises. Earlier during the first press conference by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, former was found sleeping whereas the latter was asking the score of the India Pakistan World Cup match.
In a bizarre claim, Prem Kumar, Minister of Agriculture in the Government of Bihar said that the entire Encephalitis outbreak due to eating litchi reasoning is a conspiracy against 'litchi'. Another minister of the Nitish Cabinet trivalised the issue saying that 'no one is permanent'.
When asked Dr Harsh Vardhan about the steps taken, he had said while speaking exclusively to Republic TV,
"Indian government is supporting the state in giving good treatment to the patients to contain the infection and is providing with pediatricians, epidemiologists, specialists, ICMR experts. When I had taken charge as Union Health Minister, within 4-5 days I had dispatched these facilities to tackle the epidemic as soon as early cases had been reported," he said.