The Congress on Saturday slammed the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government for the deaths of over 60 children at a hospital in Gorakhpur, demanding that he step down and a probe be conducted by a Supreme Court judge into the matter.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who visited the Baba Raghav Das Medical College in eastern UP's Gorakhpur along with party colleagues, expressed anguish over the deaths of these children, allegedly due to the dearth of supply of liquid oxygen.
Dissatisfied by CM Adityanath's assurance that all possible causes that may have led to these deaths will be investigated, Azad said that the probe by the state government and the suspension of the college principal was just "an eyewash". He demanded that the matter be probed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.
The Congress leader was confident that if the matter was properly investigated, the state government would be found to be squarely responsible for the "gross negligence" that led to these deaths. He also said that the truth would come out only if an all-party delegation held an inquiry and the report would come in a week's time.
"This incident took place due to the laxity on the part of the state government. The state government is fully responsible for it. The chief minister, health minister and the health secretary must immediately resign and doctors should not be blamed for this", he said.
"Suspending the college principal and holding a probe by the district authorities has no meaning and is merely an eyewash. A sitting judge of the Supreme Court must investigate this matter and the report of the probe should come in 15 days time", Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said the chief minister and UP Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh should resign taking "moral responsibility" for the deaths.
"There are clearly two dimensions to it, that of criminal culpability of all those who are responsible - the hospital administration, the oxygen supplier and the district administration which is supposed to exercise superintendence over the hospital, and the other is the moral responsibility of the chief minister. While all those responsible must be charged with criminal culpability, there is a moral dimension which the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and his health minister must take responsibility for and resign immediately", he said.
Taking a dig at the Uttar Pradesh health minister, the Congress leader tweeted, "UP Health Minister only seeks votes in Lal Bahadur Shastri ji's name - he doesn't follow Shastri ji's high morals in politics. Shastri ji resigned taking moral responsibility for railway accident, @sidharthnsingh holds on to power even after death of infants (sic)."
Singh is the grandson of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Speaking to PTI, UP Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh had said, "The deaths of children are very unfortunate and the government will set up an inquiry committee to ascertain if any lapse has been there. If anyone is found guilty, he will be made accountable."
He said according to reports from the paediatric department of the hospital, 60 children died due to various diseases since August 7.
Singh, however, asserted that the deaths were not because of paucity of oxygen.
(WITH INPUTS FROM PTI)