Asia

India sterilisation: Police arrest drug factory owners

Chhattisgarh botched up surgery Image copyright ALok Putul/BBC Hindi
Image caption Doctors say many of the women are still in a critical condition

Indian police have arrested the owners of two pharmaceutical factories as part of the investigation into the deaths of 15 women after sterilisation surgery.

The two men were held on charges of destroying evidence - which they deny.

The doctor who conducted the surgery has also been detained. He denies negligence, saying the medicine administered may have been faulty.

Their cause of death remains unclear. The surgeries were part of a state-run mass sterilisation campaign.

The results of the post-mortem examinations of the 15 women who died in Chhattisgarh state have not been made public yet.

Medicine 'burned'

On Thursday police raided the factory which manufactured some of the drugs administered to the women who died after the sterilisation surgery.

A pile of ash was found in the building along with the remains of medicine packets, Reuters news agency reports.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some of the women's symptoms have included fever, vomiting and low blood pressure

Ramesh Mahawar, the factory owner, who was arrested along with his son, told Reuters that he was being "harrassed" and denied his medicines had any connection to the deaths.

Their arrests came one day after that of the doctor who conducted the surgery.

Dr RK Gupta and his assistant carried out tubectomies on 130 women at two separate camps last Saturday and Monday. Reports say he operated on 83 women in five hours in one of the camps - government rules say one surgeon should only perform 35 operations in a day.

Fourteen died after the first camp in Bilaspur and one after the second. More than 100 women are still in hospital, some of them in a critical condition

Dr Gupta had been earlier feted by the state government for conducting a record number of sterilisations.

He reportedly said he was put under pressure to carry out the operations and also accused the government of making him a scapegoat.

Sterilisation camps are frequently held to carry out mass tubectomy operations for women - or vasectomies for men - and in some states, health workers receive money for each person they bring to a clinic to be sterilised.

The vast majority who take part are women, often poor and paid to be sterilised.

Explaining female sterilisation: Michelle Roberts, Health editor, BBC News website

Female sterilisation works by sealing the fallopian tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the womb. This can be done using clips, clamps or small rings or by tying and cutting the tube - this stops the egg and sperm meeting, so pregnancy can't occur.

Eggs will still be released from the ovaries as normal, but they will be reabsorbed by the body instead.

The procedure can be carried out via keyhole surgery or through an abdominal operation. It is very effective and straightforward when carried out correctly and by a highly trained professional. But it is not without risks. Most doctors will try to use the least invasive method.

It requires an anaesthetic and there is a risk of damage to other organs during the procedure. There can be bleeding and infection too. It should also be considered permanent - it is difficult to reverse.

Why do Indian women go to sterilisation camps?

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