In the last 24 days, close to 180 children have died in the state of Bihar due to the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). While the causes of the fatal disease remain unknown, the Nitish Kumar-led state government shifting the blame from 'litchis' to 'excessive heat humidity' to 'hypoglycemia'.
To add to the horror, Republic TV's investigation found several skeletal in the backyard of the hospital on June 23 and exposed the poor conditions of the building of the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) among other hospitals in the state (Darbhanga Medical College).
On June 10, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had said "Japanese Encephalitis takes place in the Gaya district of Bihar, but the one happening in Muzaffarpur is not Japanese Encephalitis", even as the causes remained unknown. Since then, he has not spoken about the disease that has taken so many lives in the state.
Republic TV's super sensational sting on sitting MLA of the JD(U) Ashok Choudhary has admitted that "it is the failure of the Bihar government" in controlling the Encephalitis outbreak. Pointing at Nitish Kumar, his government and its lackadaisical attitude, he has admitted that "children could have been saved had the state government acted on time and if the Chief Minister played an active role".
Republic TV stung Ashok Choudhary, JD(U) MLA, and asked him about the increasing death toll of children that has gone up to 181(as of June 24). He was further questioned about the steps taken by the state government to prevent the epidemic.
Responding to the question, the stung MLA said, "since he is in the government, it is his obligation to speak in favour of the government".
Admitting the recklessness of the authorities, he said that people should have been alerted in advance to prevent such a drastic situation. He further added that "95% of children who died were from poor families", however, the JD(U) MLA reiterated his party's old stance that the disease spread because the children slept without eating.
Previously, after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the SKMC Hospital, the official press statement released by his office had stated that one of the reasons for the deaths was that the 'children slept without having dinner'.
When asked about Bihar CM Nitish Kumar taking the blame, JD(U) MLA Choudhary accepted that it is a matter of insult for the state government that because deaths of children have been happening every year but its causes are unknown.
At the same time he went on to shift the blame on the doctors, saying that the "doctors should have pressurised the government". He admitted that adequate steps should have been taken- medical facilities and doctors should have been provided.
In a shameful admission, he added that his government should have provided doctors and ambulance in the small villages, and should have shifted the patients to district hospitals if adequate treatment was not given in the villages. However, he claimed that such steps were not taken. He also admitted that if the state government had provided ambulance, the poor would not have to pay an additional amount of around 1500 Rs for the service.
In the sting, he further alleged that Nitish Kumar government did not act to spread awareness among the poor about the fatal disease. In yet another sensational revelation, he exposed the middlemen-link confessing that "facilities did not reach the poor because the authorities and staff present in the middle did not let that happen".
He added that the government's agencies are also responsible, accepting that "people are losing trust in the government agencies in Bihar" because it does not provide help on time, despite many complaints.
In the biggest admission in the same breath, JD(U) MLA Ashok Choudhary claimed that people will forget about the incident by the time state election arrives in Bihar.
This development has come two days after Republic investigative team discovered human skeletal remains behind SKMC Hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar amid encephalitis outbreak. The visuals showed the skull and limbs of the skeletal behind the premises of Muzaffarpur hospital. While the principal of the medical college said that a report in the matter has been sent to Muzaffarpur District Magistrate who suggested that the skeletal belonged to animals, Bihar Health Ministry was forced to order a probe into the matter.
The outbreak of AES has taken away lives of 181 (as of June 24) children in the state. The state administration, however, is clueless about the reason that causes such a deadly disease. While the administration putting shifting the blame of increasing deaths on excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchis on an empty stomach, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy CM Sushil Modi have been silent about the Encephalitis outbreak.