Several people, two of them closely related to children who died in the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak, have been booked in Vaishali district for staging a roadblock in protest against lack of health facilities and scarcity of water, police said Tuesday, 25 June.
According to Sanjay Kumar, SHO of Bhagwanpur police station, an FIR was lodged on 18 June when residents of Harivanshpur village had staged a sit-in on the highway connecting Vaishali with Muzaffarpur.
"Altogether 19 persons were named in the FIR which also speaks about 30 other unnamed ones. None of the identified people have been arrested so far and investigations are on to identify the unnamed accused", he said.
Asked about media reports that the accused included close relatives of children who have died since 1 June, after being afflicted from AES, the SHO said "it has come to our notice that among the named accused two had lost their close ones to the disease".
“However, we wish to point out that this was not known to us 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, official sources in Patna refuted reports in a section of the media that the accused have been booked in the wake of their roadblock allegedly obstructing the cavalcade of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had visited a government hospital in Muzaffarpur on the same day to take stock of the situation.
"The highway does fall on the Vaishali-Muzaffarpur border but the Chief Minister did not travel by road. He had reached Muzaffarpur by a helicopter which he again used for return. The VIP movement took place inside Muzaffarpur town and was not affected by whatever was happening on the highway", the sources said.
According to the state Health department, more than 700 children have been afflicted by AES in 20 districts since 1 June out of whom more than 150 have died. Out of these, 131 deaths have taken place at two hospitals of Muzaffarpur alone which have admitted a total of 600 brain fever patients so far this month.