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

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