Eye camp tragedy: Doctor, NGO activist held as Punjab orders probe

Chandigarh: The Punjab Police have arrested a Jalandhar-based doctor and the coordinator of a NGO who were allegedly involved in organising a free eye check up camp which resulted in 15 old people losing their eyesight.

Police officials said Friday that the eye specialist Vivek Arora and NGO coordinator Manjit Singh were arrested.

The Punjab government Friday ordered a probe into the free eye check-up camp that left 15 people from Amritsar district without eyesight. The patients underwent cataract surgery at the Guru Nanak Charitable Hospital in Ghuman village of Gurdaspur district recently.

The state government also announced interim relief of Rs.1 lakh to each of the affected families, whose members have lost eyesight in the tragedy.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Friday ordered a high level probe into the Ghuman medical camp tragedy.

The state government Friday also banned holding of health camps without prior approval of civil surgeons in respective districts.

Officials in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts said that the number of patients whose eyesight was affected could go up as up to 60 patients had been checked upon.

Badal has asked Principal Secretary, Health, Vinnie Mahajan to personally conduct an inquiry into all the aspects of the incident.

"He directed Mahajan to rush to the site of tragedy for an on-spot assessment of the tragedy and for supervising and expediting relief to the victims and their families," Badal's adviser Harcharan Bains said.

"Announcing free medical treatment for all the victims of the tragedy, Badal has directed that all the patients should be re-examined for fresh treatment at the government level," Bains said.

At least 15 people lost their eyesight after undergoing cataract operation at a charitable hospital following a free eye check-up conducted by an NGO in Punjab's Gurdaspur district, about 250 km from here.

Enquiries are being made about the NGO, which is based in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Sources said that the team of doctors, who operated upon the eye patients, were mostly from Mathura.

The people who lost their eyesight were all aged above 60 years. They were admitted to the Government Medical College hospital, Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat said.

All of them belong to Gago Mahal village in Ajnala sub-division of Amritsar district.

The administration came to know about the incident after some affected villagers complained to the Amritsar deputy commissioner Thursday.

Bhagat said the doctors at the medical college said it will take up to one week to know if the eyesight of the affected people can be saved. Doctors fear that most of the 15 victims, including old women, could have lost their eyesight forever.

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