CPI (ML) Observes National Protest Day against Deaths of Children in Gorakhpur

CPI (ML) called for a national protest day to be observed on 14 August against the deaths of over 70 children in BRD hospital in Gorakhpur due to lack of oxygen. The deaths which occurred over 6 days were criminally allowed to happen due to gross negligence leading many to terms these deaths not as tragedy but massacres.

Uttar Pradesh :

CPI(ML) Activists Arrested During Gorakhpur Bandh

The CPI ML) observed 14 August 2017 as a countrywide protest day against the killing of children in the BRD Medical College Hospital due to cutting off oxygen supply. The Party has called the murder of over 5 dozen children at the hospital a ‘State sponsored massacre’ and demanded the resignation of CM Adityanath. Earlier, during the Party’s Lucknow State Committee meeting on 11 August the Party had called for countrywide protests and demanded the resignation of the Health Minister. The following day an enquiry team from the Party went to Gorakhpur, the team consisted of Com Krishna Adhikari, AIARLA State General Secretary Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha and Gorakhpur CPI (ML) District Secretary Rajesh Sahani.

Campaigning on the eve of the bandh was done through microphone in Gorakhpur city to make the bandh successful. The Party initiative in this incident which has shaken the entire country has had a positive impact. Many other political parties and organizations also came forward in support of the bandh. The protest march on 14 August started from the Party office and proceeded towards the Golghar area. When the march, raising slogans demanding Yogi’s resignation, reached the Chetna Tri-junction the administration stopped them from moving forward any further and the activists then sat in dharna on the road. The police arrested them and took them to the Police Lines. The arrested activists included Rajesh Sahani, Rakesh Singh (RYA), members of the local organization ‘Ami Bachao Manch’ and dozens of CPI(ML) activists. Traders and shopkeepers cooperated in the bandh to make it successful. The arrested activists were released late in the evening.

Apart from Gorakhpur protests were also held in many other districts of Uttar Pradesh as part of the countrywide protest day. Dharnas, rallies, and protest meetings were held in Ghazipur, Deoriya, Varanasi, Chandauli (at Naugarh, Mughalserai, Sahabganj and Chahaniya), Mirzapur, Lalganj, and Ahiraura. At Jamalpur 4 activists (including comrade Ramkrit) were arrested during the protest and sent to jail. Protest marches, meetings and effigy burnings of Yogi were also organized at Allahabad, Kanpur, Mau, Ballia, Moradabad, Mathura, Pilibhit and other districts. Earlier on 12 August a march was taken out at Lucknow from the Party office which culminated in a meeting and effigy burning of Yogi at Hussainganj chowk. Also on 12 August rallies were held at Maharajganj and Deoriya (under the AIPWA banner) in which children holding placards and posters joined the protest.

Delhi : On 13 August, students, activists, citizens held protests in Jantar Mantar, demanding immediate accountability and resignation of UP CM Yogi Adityanath. Students from JNU, DU, Jamia and Ambedkar University participated in the protest. Along with that trade union activists from AICCTU, JNUSU President Mohit, Poet Gauhar Raza, Activists Shabnam Hashmi, Ovais Sultan Khan, Cultural Group Sangwari were also present. The protestors gathered at Jantar Mantar took out a short march after which many speakers addressed the gathering. Before the speakers all those present observed a minute’s silence in memory of the children who died in Gorakhpur due to lack of Oxygen in hospital.

Speaking at the protest AISA National President Sucheta De said that it is a matter of great shame that when we are about to mark 70 years of our Independence, over 60 children have to die in a hospital due to the lack of oxygen, this is nothing short of a tragedy. But at the same time we demand answers and accountability from those who are responsible for this and ensure that they take responsibility and quit their posts. Gorakhpur is the Parliamentary constituency of UP CM Yogi Adityanath, the day he visited 9 kids died in the hospital, he cannot escape the responsibility. Scientist and Poet Gauhar Raza said, ‘Protests like this are being organised throughout the country today and tomorrow. I hope that it is through the strength of these protests that Yogi Adityanath will be forced to resign.’ JNUSU President Mohit Pandey, activist Ovais Sultan Khan and Navaid Hamid, CPI(ML) Central Committee Member Raja Bahuguna also spoke at the meeting.

Bihar : Protests were held across the state of Bihar on 14 August 2017 in Patna, Bhojpur, Jehanabad, Muzaffarpur, Saharsa, Nawada, Siwan, Darbhanga and other places. The protest at Kargil Chowk in Patna began with tributes to the murdered children after which the meeting began in which slogans were raised to demand the resignation of Yogi, increase in health care funding, curbing the politics of hate and divisiveness, and providing citizens with due facilities.

The meeting was addressed by comrades Saroj Choube, Shashi Yadav, Ranvijay Kumar, Murtaza Ali and others. The speakers said that this heart-rending is not just a result of administrative negligence but a state sponsored massacre. Non-payment of 5 months’ dues, a mere Rs 70 lakhs, to the oxygen supplying company has resulted in the deaths of the children. Instead of acknowledging his responsibility Yogi and his Ministers are giving shameless statements trying to pass the blame on to others. Dr Kafeel Khan, who had tried his utmost to save the children, has been sacked; even in this time of death and grief Yogi continues to play his politics of communal divisiveness. They said that if Yogi does not resign we will sharpen our agitation; a government which is insensitive to its own citizens has no right to remain in power.

Andhra Pradesh : In Prathipadu mandal in East Godavari district, a protest programme was held by school children condemning the callous attitude of the Yogi Aditynath government in UP that allowed the deaths of so many children on 13 August. In Yeleswaram Mandal, UP CM’s effigy was burnt and the protestors raised slogans demanding his resignation. A rally was also organized in Tenali in Guntur district. A candle light procession took place in Cuddapah town demanding justice for the deceased children.

Uttarakhand : The effigy of the UP CM was burnt at Railway Station Chowk in Lalkuan. The protestors demanded the resignation of the UP CM. Addressing the meeting prior to the effigy burning, district secretary of CPI(ML) Kailash Pandey said that the deaths of the innocent children in a hospital in the CM’s own constituency was not due to encephalitis but was a massacre by state for which the state government should be held responsible. It was extremely shameful that throwing aside all sensitivity, the apologists of the Yogi government and state ministers were trying to rationalise the deaths saying that these happened every year. It is further shameful that a PM who tweets so frequently has continued to maintain a silence on these deaths. He also condemned the Modi led central government for continuing to privatise education and medical health services.

Jharkhand : A protest march concluding in a public meeting was organised in Garhwa district. Addressing the meeting, district secretary, Kalicharan Mehta said that the deaths of so many children have shaken the entire country. In a year when we are getting ready to celebrate 70 years of independence, our hospitals continue to remain wells of death for our children. It is not a case of mere administrative negligence when the health service providers fail to pay amounts running to 70 lakhs to oxygen suppliers for over months. At a time when children continue to fight battle against encephalitis in ill-equipped hospitals, how can CM be more concerned whether Vande Matram is sung in Madrassas or not. He also condemned the sacking of Dr. Kafeel Ahmed who was trying to save the lives of children.