Fathers of two encephalitis victims among 19 booked for blocking highway during Nitish Kumar’s Muzaffarpur visit

Families of children who died of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar are among 19 people who have been booked by the police for protesting on a highway during Chief Minister Nitish Kumars visit to Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur to meet the kids undergoing treatment after an outbreak of AES. According to a report in The Indian Express, two of them are fathers of AES victims who were protesting against the governments inaction to deal with the crisis. According to Sanjay Kumar, SHO of Bhagwanpur police station, villagers had staged a sit-in on the highway connecting Vaishali with Muzaffarpur in Vaishali district against lack of health facilities and scarcity of water in the region after seven children succumbed to AES over the period of a fortnight. Kumar confirmed that an FIR has been filed against the protestors, adding that it was lodged on June 18 against the residents of Harivanshpur village. The 19 have been booked under Sections 147, 148 and 149 (rioting and unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order), 283 (obstruction in public way), 353 (assault) and 504 (breach of peace). The FIR also speaks about 30 other unnamed ones. Kumar said that none of the identified people have been arrested so far and investigations are on to identify the unnamed accused. Rajesh Sahni, who lost his seven-year-old daughter on June 9 due to encephalitis, said that the state government was not listening to their requests even after the death of children. He said that villagers protested on the national highway, demanding water tankers and other facilities. I was surprised to see my name among 19 accused for breach of peace, Another Harvanshpur villager Ramdev Sahni who lost his two-year-old daughter due to encephalitis said is also among 19 people who have been booked by the police. Sahni denied charges of rioting and assault and asked is demanding water from the government a crime. I am still mourning my daughter Is demanding water tankers a crime? This shows the very attitude of the government towards the poor, When Sanjay Kumar was asked about the reports that families of children who died after being afflicted from encephalitis, he said that it has come to the notice of police that two had lost their kids due to the disease and that this was not known to the police till the lodging of FIR. Blocking traffic on a highway warranted legal action and we were duty-bound to register a case against those who were involved. Nevertheless, proper action will be taken in due course, he added. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has directed the Bihar to file an affidavit within seven days, apprising it about the preventive measures taken so far to minimise casualties. The outbreak of AES has claimed the lives of more than 140 children in Muzaffarpur.


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