RAIPUR, India (AFP) – An Indian doctor who conducted mass sterilisations that killed 13 women has been taken into custody, after saying he was being made a scapegoat for a controversial family planning scheme.
R K Gupta was detained for questioning amid mounting anger over the botched operations in central Chhattisgarh state, where women were paid to undergo a procedure that also left dozens in hospital, police said Thursday.
Gupta operated on 83 women in just five hours – spending an average of less than four minutes on each patient – at a state-run camp in Bilaspur district at the weekend.
The impoverished women were paid 1,400 rupees ($23) to undergo the surgery.
“He has been taken into custody. He will be produced in the court in the afternoon today. He is likely to be arrested soon after,” police inspector general Pawan Deo said from Bilaspur, adding that medical equipment used at the camp would be seized.
Gupta said the government was wrongly accusing him and blamed the drugs that were used during the surgery, as activists called for India’s family planning scheme to be overhauled.
“I have done so many operations before this and there have never been any problems. They (administration) are putting the blame on me,” he told NDTV as he was being taken into custody on Wednesday night.
“This is all because of the drugs, the drugs given to the patients. The symptoms developed only after they were given the drugs,” said Gupta, who reportedly received an award from the government for the thousands of sterilisations he has performed.
“Almost all the patients are complaining now of how they started vomiting within 10 to 15 minutes of having the drugs.
“After vomiting they started feeling dizzy and weak and then their conditions just deteriorated even further.”
Although no cause of death has officially been given, authorities speculated that the women had died of septic shock.
The state government has banned five drugs used at the camp pending investigations, including an anaesthetic and a pain killer.
Sterilisation is one of the most popular methods of family planning in India, and many state governments organise mass camps where mainly poor, rural women can undergo the usually straightforward procedure.