NHRM scam still draws blood in UP

When the then chief medical officer, Dr Vinod Arya was sprayed with bullets in the posh Vikas Nagar area in the state capital while he was taking a morning stroll on an October morning in 2010, officials did not have the faintest idea that it was only the beginning of a series of killings.

Since then as many as five health officials, connected with the NRHM, have either been killed or have died under mysterious circumstances in different parts of the state giving rise to the apprehension that more lives may be claimed by the bloody scam in the days to come.

Dr Arya was responsible for the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in various districts in the state and thus controlled the funds. He was allegedly killed after he threatened to expose some ‘high profile’ people, who had committed large scale irregularities in the scheme.

Dr Arya’s successor, Dr B P Singh was also killed in a similar manner six months later. Two months later deputy chief medical officer Dr Y S Sachan was found dead in mysterious circumstances inside the Lucknow district jail.

The police initially claimed that Sachan, who was suspected to be involved in the killing of his two bosses, had committed suicide.But the post-mortem examination revealed injury marks on his body. It led the investigating agencies to believe that he might have been killed.

The deaths did not stop there. In January 2012, a project manager with NRHM, Sunil Kumar Verma, committed suicide. A month later deputy chief medical officer Shailesh Yadav was killed in a car accident near Varanasi. But the police do not suspect that the death was in any way linked to the previous killings.

The ‘mysterious’ death of the health clerk Mahendra Sharma in Lakhimpur-Kheri is the sixth in the series. The CBI is probing the scam. UP Chief Minister Mayawati had sacked health minister Anant Mishra and family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha after the death of Sachan. Kushwaha now claims that he is innocent and will ‘bare’ everything soon.

The scheme was launched in 2005 with the objective of strengthening health services in rural areas. The funds were to be used to construct health centres  and ensure they were stocked with medicines and working equipment. A CAG report says that close to 5,000 crores has gone missing in UP.

The Allahabad High Court had directed the CBI to inquire into the scam. It has arrested eight people in this connection.

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