Principal wife suspended
Lucknow, Aug. 19: The child deaths in Gorakhpur have scalped not just the then principal of the Baba Raghav Das Medical College but his wife as well.
Purnima Shukla, wife of Rajiv Mishra, was yesterday suspended as senior health officer with the Government Homeopathy Hospital in Gola, Gorakhpur district.
A probe has found her prima facie guilty of “demanding kickbacks in exchange for her husband releasing payments to Pushpa Sales Pvt Ltd”, ayush (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) minister Dharm Singh Saini told reporters today.
Thirty children had died in two days at the medical college after Pushpa Sales, its oxygen vendor, stopped supplies on August 9 evening over unpaid bills. On August 12, the government had suspended Mishra, accusing him of delaying the payments, and later accepted his resignation the same evening.
Shukla had since last year been on deputation as project officer to a homoeopathic clinic run at the medical college by the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Delhi. She had been relieved from the medical college on August 13 and asked to report back to the Gola hospital, which she did.
A probe report into the child deaths by the district magistrate, which is believed to have laid the entire blame on senior doctors, had apparently suggested a role by Shukla, prompting the ayush department to start an inquiry against her.
The probe team was made up of special secretary Yatindra Mohan of the ayush department, joint secretary Rishikesh Dubey and the director of the homoeopathy department, V.K. Vimal.
Saini said the probe had indicted Shukla. “She was misusing the authority of her husband. She has been suspended and attached with the homoeopathy directorate, Lucknow.”
Shukla told reporters in Gorakhpur: “My husband and I have been made scapegoats to save some big people who were responsible for the disruption in oxygen supply.”
This newspaper had reported on August 15 how Mishra had sent at least 11 letters to the state government between March 22 and August 1 urging payment of the vendor’s dues and informing the authorities of the company’s threat to stop supplies.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath today reaffirmed in Gorakhpur what the government has been saying since the deaths happened — that lack of oxygen didn’t kill the children.
State health minister Siddharth Nath Singh too has been quoted as saying that child deaths from encephalitis rise during the monsoon months every year.
“If the deaths didn’t happen because of an oxygen shortage, and if such large-scale deaths take place every August, what prompted the authorities to target us?” Shukla asked.
Principal wife suspended