Raje holds meet as 11 die in facility for mentally challenged

Jaipur, April 30 (IANS) Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje held a meeting in connection with the death of 11 people, including nine children, in a government-run residential facility for the mentally challenged.

The deaths occurred between April 16 and 27 in Jamdoli area near here.

“The meeting was attended by Social Welfare Minister Arun Chaturvedi, Medical and Health Minister Rajendra Singh Rathore and Chief Secretary C.S. Rajan,” a senior state government official told IANS.

During the meeting, she said: “There has been gross negligence by employees and officials and we will take strong action against those found guilty.”

Meanwhile, one more child was admitted on Saturday in the government-run hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) ward.

With this, nine people have been admitted in the government-run Sawai Man Singh and JK Lone hospitals, including four in critical condition.

The opposition Congress party has demanded an inquiry by a retired high court judge into the incident.

“Innocent children lost their lives because of gross negligence by state government officials. Vasundhara Raje government is now trying to sweep under the carpet the complete case,” Rameshwar Dudi, leader of opposition in the state assembly and senior Congress leader, said.

“We want an inquiry by a retired judge,” said Dudi.

Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, spokesperson of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee, has asked the chief minister to sack Social Welfare Minister Chaturvedi.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued notice to the Rajasthan government on the deaths.

The Rajasthan government on Friday had announced setting up of a high-level committee to probe the deaths, including of nine children, in a government-run residential facility for the mentally challenged.

“We have formed a high-level committee to investigate the deaths and the panel is expected to give its report in 15 days,” Minister Chaturvedi said on Friday.

Chaturvedi said it seemed the deaths occurred due to some bacterial infection. The cause of bacterial infection has to be ascertained… why it happened and how it happened?

Doctors at the JK Lone Hospital are of the opinion the bacterial infection seemed to have been caused by either food or water.

Samples of drinking water have been collected and sent for testing. “We are awaiting the report,” the minister said.

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