Doctor behind India sterilization deaths arrested

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(CNN) — The doctor at the center of the botched sterilization procedures that left more than a dozen women in India dead has been arrested.

The victims were among 83 women who received the surgery over a six-hour period on Saturday at a government-run mobile clinic in Chhattisgarh — one of India’s most impoverished states.

The clinic was run as part of a national campaign to slow India’s population growth. The women received $23 each as an incentive to be sterilized.

The South Asian nation has the world’s second-largest population after China with around 1.25 billion people.

But a day after the procedure, a number women complained of severe pain and vomiting. Thirteen of them died, while the others remain hospitalized.

Late Wednesday, police detained Dr. R. K. Gupta, the man who carried out the surgeries, a spokesperson for Chhattisgarh’s health ministry said Thursday.

A team of specialist doctors has now been sent from the southern city of Hyderabad to Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh’s second-largest city, local police commissioner Sonmani Borah told CNN.

Expired drugs?

Earlier this week, Gupta told CNN that Saturday’s sterilizations alone may not have sickened the women and that it had something to do with the expired drugs they received afterward.

“After the surgery, the women took painkillers, antibiotics and so on from the local village medical distributors which is the main cause of this incident,” said Gupta, whose license to practice medicine has been suspended pending an official investigation.

Gupta said that his team — which consisted of two doctors and six nurses — followed all necessary safety procedures during the surgeries. He even added the government had previously awarded him and his team for the large number of sterilizations they’d performed.

However, government guidelines stipulate that doctors should conduct no more than 30 sterilization surgeries a day.

Results of the autopsies conducted on some of the deceased women are expected this week, according to R.K. Vange, chief medical health officer for the area.