On Monday, during the Bharat Bandh called by Congress and other opposition parties against the scaling fuel price in the country, a two-year-old girl lost her life after she allegedly did not get an ambulance at the right time. There has been a political slugfest about the child’s death. BJP ministers claimed that she died due to the Bandh. However, the district officer has denied such claims.
According to the New Indian Express, the girl, Gauri Kumari, who was suffering from severe diarrhoea, was rushed to the Sadar hospital in Jehanabad district of Bihar. The girl was declared brought dead by the doctors.
Her father, Pramod Manjhi, a resident of Balabigha district, initially claimed that he did not find an ambulance or any other four-wheeler even after many efforts. He said, they then took an auto-rickshaw to reach the hospital. He further claimed that bandh supporters stopped his auto-rickshaw.
Pramod told some local journalist that because the protestors stopped his vehicle resulting in a delay, his daughter lost her life on the way. Later the father changed his statement and said that his auto-rickshaw was not stopped.
A different version
The Logical Indian spoke to the Jehanabad district magistrate, Alok Ranjan Ghosh, who had denied the claims of the toddler’s death due to the Bharat Bandh. He said, according to the preliminary inquiry, the girl did not die due to the traffic jam or Bharat Bandh protest. Instead, her family had left late from their home to reach the hospital.
He says that the girl had already fallen sick a day before but the family had not taken her to the doctor. “After the inquiry, we got to know that the family did not even ask for an ambulance neither from Balabigha hospital nor from the Gaya hospital. The emergency and ambulance services were functional on that day,” he said.
He further added that the family, instead of going to the Balabigha district hospital, which was closer to them decided to go to the Sadar hospital that is two blocks away from their residence. “We have spoken to both auto-rickshaw driver and the girl’s father, they have accepted that their auto was stopped at some Naka (signal) but was soon let go. However, the bandh cannot be directly blamed,” said Alok Ranjan.
Meanwhile, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has slammed Congress and other Opposition parties over the toddler’s death, reported Times Of India.
While speaking at a press conference, Ravi Shankar said, “Everyone has a right to protest, but what is happening today? Petrol pumps and buses are being set ablaze, putting lives at risk. A child died after as an ambulance could not reach in time due to the protests in Bihar’s Jehanabad. Who is responsible?”
The Bharat Bandh
On September 10, the Congress party and its allies had called for a nationwide shutdown following the continuous surge in fuel prices across the country. During the six-hour-long strike from 9 am to 3 pm, several parts of the country observed a near-complete shutdown of the public transport system, which caused immense trouble for the common citizens. With no public transport to rely upon, schools, colleges, shops and even businesses remained suspended for the day in Maharashtra, Bihar among other locations.
According to the Indian Express, there were reports of violent protests from some parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bihar, while the Bandh was observed peacefully in other states.
Reportedly, the bandh supporters vandalised buses, cars and two-wheelers found running on the roads and also burnt tyres on the highway. As many as 687 people were taken into preventive custody in the Bihar during the bandh.