Members of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Centre of India Trade Unions, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Mamch, Democratic Youth Federation of India and Students' Federation of India participated in the protest.
Several activists from different organisations staged a protest outside the Bihar Bhawan here Tuesday and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as more than 100 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the state. They accused the Centre and the Bihar government of not being serious about containing the outbreak, and said the healthcare system in the state was mismanaged.
Many held placards with the message “Give adequate compensation to affected families”. Other banners asked Kumar and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey to resign. “Ayushman (Bharat) ki jumlebazi band karo,” another read. Several women activists raised slogans against Kumar, who once was called ‘sushashan babu’ because of his governance, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside the Chanakyapuri-based Bihar Bhawan.
A delegation of the activists later submitted a memorandum to the resident commissioner of Bihar in New Delhi. The memorandum was addressed to Kumar. “We are anguished and urge the government to provide adequate medical facilities, particularly in Muzaffarpur, to attend to the patients,” the memorandum read. It sought a thorough study into the AES outbreak. Members of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Centre of India Trade Unions, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Mamch, Democratic Youth Federation of India and Students’ Federation of India participated in the protest.
Mariam Dhawale, general secretary of AIDWA, said the Bihar chief minister chose to visit Muzaffarpur on Tuesday while reports of children dying in the city have been coming for days. “It is shameful and he must tender resignation. The Bihar health minister, who has been inefficient in handling the issue, should also step down,” she said. An AIDWA delegation had visited Muzaffarpur and assessed the situation in hospitals there. “It is filthy, overcrowded with four children on one bed, inadequate medicines and lack of doctors. How do we intend to battle this outbreak,” she asked. Dhalwale said that these deaths should be treated as “institutional murders”.
Meanwhile in Muzaffarpur, public grief gave way to outrage as angry people raised slogans against the Bihar chief minister as he held held a meeting with officials. The death toll has climbed to 105 with both the state-run Sri Krishan Memoril College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the privately-owned Kejriwal hospital reporting one casualty during the night, the district administration said. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited SKMCH on Sunday, when a strike by doctors had paralysed medical services. He was accompanied by his deputy Ashwini Kumar Choubey and the Bihar health minister.
Dhawale of the AIDWA said Vardhan had visited Muzaffarpur in 2014 too as the Union health minister and promised to build a research centre. “What happened to that promise,” she asked. Dalit Shoshan Mukti Mamch’s Pyare Lal said a massive amount of money was spent on the Lok Sabha election and everyone was busy talking about campaigns and before that — the Ram Mandir issue. “As a nation, we have got our priorities wrong,” he said.
Traffic was briefly restricted on a section of a street — between Bihar Bhawan and Gujarat Bhawan — due to the protest and another in front of the Gujarat Bhawan.