Botched eye surgery: Doctor arrested, NGO booked

RSTV Bureau

punjabA doctor who allegedly performed botched cataract surgeries leaving at least 60 people blind, was on Friday arrested and a case registered against a private hospital and a Mathura-based NGO even as the Centre sought a report from the Punjab government on the incident.

Dr Vivek Arora of an eye care centre in Jalandhar has been arrested, Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Abhinav Trikha said.

Camp organiser Manjit Singh has been detained in connection with the case, the police said, adding that a private hospital and an NGO, based in Mathura, has been booked.

“We have asked for a report from the Punjab government. But as we have been told that the operations were done by some NGO and it did not have the permission from the state government, we are finding out the details of it,” Health Minister J P Nadda told.

The Centre is ready to assist the state government if it seeks help, he said.

Reports from Amritsar had said on Thursday that at least 60 people, all above 60 years and from poor economic background, lost their eyesight at the camp in Ghuman village of Gurdaspur district organised around 10 days ago. While 16 belonged to villages in Amritsar, the rest were from Gurdaspur district.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has ordered a high-level probe into the botched surgeries and banned holding of health camps without prior approval of the civil surgeons.

Badal has asked Principal Secretary Health Vinnie Mahajan to personally conduct the inquiry into all the aspects of this unfortunate incident, an official spokesman said in Chandigarh.

He also directed Mahajan to visit the site of the camp for an on-the-spot assessment and for supervising and expediting relief to the victims and their families.

The Chief Minister also announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh to each of the affected families, whose members lost eyesight, besides free medical treatment for all the victims.

Badal directed that the patients should be re-examined for fresh treatment at the government level.

Civil Surgeon Amritsar, Rajiv Bhalla, has said the cataract surgeries were performed under “severe unhygienic condition” that left at least 60 patients with permanently damaged eyes.

The incident emerged when patients from Amritsar approached Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat to lodge a complaint against the NGO and doctors concerned.

One of the victims, Jaswant Singh said, “The world has become dark for me. I am poor man. I have lost my vision and also the money I had saved over the years. Doctors had diagnosed that my functional eye had cataract.”