Justice delayed, denied
Five months after 14 women died in sterilisation camps in Chhattisgarh, there is no sign of justice being delivered to those who lost their kin. Rather, they are being harassed for standing up for the truth
Onews of 13 women N NOVEMBER 10, dying and many others landing in hospital after mass sterilisations in Chhattisgarh made national and international headlines. Subsequent investigations, including by Down To Earth (“Operation Cover-Up”, 16-31 December, 2014),exposed state attempts to cover up the entire incident as well as deep flaws in India’s approach to family planning. Five months on, no justice seems to have been done. In fact,evidence points to the state government being responsible for the deaths.
The state government has repeatedly tried to shift the responsibility of deaths and illness among survivors to non-state agencies, saying that the drugs were contaminated with rat poison. But reports of the State Forensic Laboratory, Raipur, show that the deaths were not caused by rat poison.Viscera analyses of five of the 13 women who lost their lives at the sterilisation camp did not find poison in the body of the deceased, says a source who has a copy of the reports.
“Viscera report is the final word in forensic science in investigations of deaths. The State Forensic Laboratory reports suggest the deaths have not occurred due to any poison,let alone rat poison,”says B L Chaudhary, forensic expert at Lady Hardinge Medical College,Delhi.All postmortem reports suggest that the deaths occurred due to infection, caused by unhygienic conditions and medical practices at the camp,he adds.
Test results of drugs used at the camp— Ciprocin 500 (contains antibiotic ciprofloxacin) by Mahawar Paharma and Ibuprofen 400 mg (contains anti-inflammatory ibuprofen) byTechnical Labs and Pharma— further expose the callous attitude of the state government.
Soon after the incident, drug samples from the spot were sent to four laboratories— government and private—to determine cause of deaths and illness. The list includes the Central Drugs Laboratory (cdl), Kolkata, the National Institute of Immunology,Delhi, Sriram Institute of Industrial Research (siir), Delhi, and Qualichem Laboratories, Nagpur.All four laboratories’reports,which are with DownTo Earth, state that the medicines used in the operations were substandard.“A tablet is defined as substandard when it contains less than 80 per cent of what is