GURDASPUR/NEW DELHI: A doctor, who allegedly performed botched cataract surgeries leaving several people blind, was today 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, have been booked.
However, there were conflicting reports over the number of doctors as also the patients who had lost their vision completely.
Trikha said 130 eye surgeries were conducted over a span of four days in four places in Punjab and number of people who had lost their vision was 24. While 23 of the victims were from Amritsar, one was from Gurdaspur, he said.
Civil Surgeon, Amritsar, Rajiv Bhalla, had yesterday said the cataract surgeries were performed under "severe unhygienic condition" whereupon eyes of all the 60 patients were found damaged permanently.
Trikha said a police team has been sent to Mathura to ascertain details from the NGO about the eye camps held in Ghuman in Gurdaspur on October 31, Tanda in Hoshiarpur on November two, Dera Baba Nanak, also in Gurdaspur, on November three and Gogamahal in Amritsar on November four.
"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 reporters outside Parliament.
The Centre is ready to assist the state government if it seeks help, he said.
Reports from Amritsar had said yesterday that several people, all above 60 years and from poor economic background, lost their vision after cataract operation.
This incident comes even as 13 women died after undergoing "faulty" sterilisation surgeries at two government-organised family planning camps in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh last month.
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 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 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 also directed that the patients should be re-examined for fresh treatment at the government level.
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."