Dularin Patel, 27, of Lokhandi village in Takhatpur was one of the 13 women who died. “She was fine till Monday afternoon when she visited us.She had taken medicines on Saturday night and twice on Sunday,” says Gorabai, Dularin’s mother. “She started vomiting from 4 o’clock in the evening. Then, we got a call from her in-laws, who stay 70 km away, that the mitanin (local health worker) has asked her to go to the hospital.By 3 o’clock on Tuesday morning, she was in Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences (cims).”
“I fed my daughter black tea and bread toast before she left home. I did not know that was going to be her last meal,” says Dularin’s mother, not being able to contain tears in her eyes. By early evening on Tuesday, Dularin was declared dead.
Preliminary results of the post-mortems of the victims have been submitted to the investigating agencies. They have not been disclosed to the public but a senior medical officer who closely monitored the post-mortems told Down To Earth (dte) that Dularin had developed septicaemia. “She had inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane forming the lining of the abdominal cavity.T here was half-a-litre of thick yellowish fluid in her lungs and septic foci was found in all organs,” said the source, requesting not to be named. “This is a clear-cut case of postoperative infection.”
dte has accessed seven postmortem reports. Five of these are of women who died on November 11, one of a November 12 victim and one of November 13. All five reports from the first day showed infection of the abdomen. The report from the second day showed high infection in the body.The report from the third day showed septic shock.
“This shows the infection kept increasing among women who were sterilised on November 8. The results show definitively that the women got infection which must have come through unsterilised instruments,” says a forensic expert at Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi.
The administration’s beautifully crafted story of contaminated medicines collapses.The women were prescribed one tablet each of two medicines, twice a day for five days.One of the medicines was the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which the administration claimed was contaminated with rat poison, zinc phosphide.
Zinc phosphide is linked to kidney failure. “We did not get any renal failure in our post-mortems,” informed the source.He said the infected laparoscope must have been the reason for the deaths.
As the forensic expert in Delhi explains, zinc phosphide poisoning shows up as ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract.The source confirmed that signs of this were missing in post-mortems. However, confirmation of poisoning can only be through viscera report, which is awaited.
The health department’s second assertion too falls flat. It said apart from the women who underwent sterilisation operations,26 more people fell sick after
I fed my daughter black tea and toast before she left home. I did not know that would be her last meal
consuming the same medicine. Six of them died. dte accessed the post-mortem reports of three of the six. “There was no peculiar finding in their postmortems. These can only be confirmed after the chemical analysis of viscera,” said the source.
Though the officials claim that medicines are the culprit, they refuse to provide the details, saying the matter is sub judice.The only information they are ready to part with is that two laboratories have confirmed that the medicines were contaminated with zinc phosphide. They would not say what was the concentration of the contaminant.
Experts do not believe this theory. “According to standard books, an adult female needs to consume 4.5 g of zinc phosphide to die,” says B L Chaudhary, from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Lady Hardinge Medical College. The Chhattisgarh administration claims that 500 mg tablets of the antibiotic were contaminated.For the sake of argument, even if one assumes that the entire 500 mg was zinc phosphide, a woman would have to consume nine tablets for the poison to prove fatal. Most women started to complain from Monday. By this time, they had taken three to five doses of the antibiotic. This casts doubt on the poisoning argument.
Citing some of these gaps, this reporter asked