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Eight more deaths in Beggars' Colony

Last updated: 20 August, 2010
Bangalore, Aug 19, DHNS: 8:02 IST

Death and drama continued at the City’s Karnataka State Rehabilitation Centre (Beggars’ Colony), where eight more people died under mysterious circumstances on Thursday, taking the toll in the last two days to 20.

While six died at the Colony, two more were declared dead at the Epidemic (Isolation) hospital.But with the authorities’ “natural death” theory coming under intense scrutiny from various quarters, the bodies of the victims were on Thursday subjected to a post-mortem.

On Wednesday, all the 12 bodies were cremated without an autopsy. Legal experts maintained that 12 deaths on a single day would warrant a post-mortem since the circumstances could be considered as “unnatural.”

Govt stand
Meanwhile, Home Minister V S Acharya on Thursday said the inmates of Beggars’ Colony have died a natural death and that there was no outbreak of any communicable disease.
“Majority of the inmates are very old and ill. They will have very low immunity level. Death rate in such colonies will be more. Death of five to eight people every day is common in such places. That was why we thought a post-mortem was not necessary,” he said.

The colony, the minister further said, is a crowded place and the infrastructure facilities in the area needed further improvement. The Social Welfare department has been directed to take steps in this regard, the minister added. Meanwhile, State Health Commissioner, D N Nayak said as per normal procedures, only those patients who have died in government hospitals are subjected to post-mortem, unless their relatives don’t want it.

“In the case of bodies that arrive at government hospitals with suspected foul play, the post-mortem is done only when requisition is received from either the Police or Social Welfare Department,” he said. In this case, no requests were made for post-mortem to government hospitals.

An inquiry commission under the chairmanship of Manjunath Prasad, Commissioner, Social Welfare Department, has been constituted. “A report will be submitted to the State government within the next three days,” said C N Manje Gowda, Chairman, Central Relief Committee after a visit to Beggars’ Colony.

The Commission will look into the hygiene aspects within the Colony premises.
At the Isolation hospital, the deaths of Mehboob (46) and Akbar (40) on Thursday were attributed to gastroenteritis. Currently, 22 patients from the Colony are being treated at the hospital, of whom two are in critical condition. Dr B G Tilak, medical superintendent, Victoria Hospital, confirmed that six people were brought to the hospital. To ascertain the exact reason for the deaths, samples of patients’ stools were sent to the Public Health Institute.

Results
The test results are expected on Friday. Doctors said since the inmates are severely malnourished and have low immunity, a simple food poisoning can cause gastroenteritis which can even cost their life.

Nayak said because of the limited number of doctors, the department had asked Beggars’ Colony officials to take patients to other government hospitals.

Though Manje Gowda said that the situation is under control, the sea of ambulances and the crowd of tense looking doctors and paramedics at the Colony premises were sufficient to explain the gravity of the situation. The dead were identified as Muga, Prakash, Sidappa, Manju and Dasappa.

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