Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Modi on Wednesday conveniently dodged a question on acute encephalitis syndrome outbreak in Bihar that killed over 100 children stating that his press conference was only about banking committees.
"I made it clear at the very start that this is a meeting of the bankers' organisation, for any other topic other than the ones related to banking, I will speak at a different occasion. If you want to ask anything related to banking please do so," Mr Modi said when he was repeatedly questioned by reporters about child deaths due to the viral disease.
The BJP leader was addressing media about the non-performing assets (NPA) crisis in the state and the performance of banks in the last financial year.
The outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar has killed 130 children. In Muzaffarpur's Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, 93 children have died. Another 19 died at the city's Kejriwal Maternity Hospital.
"The condition has remained the same for a long time. There's no bed for the patients and we don't have any other place to go with our ailing children. It is not safe to stay like this in the summer," an attendant accompanying a child told news agency ANI.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the hospital to take stock of the situation. Earlier, he had announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children who died due to encephalitis.
On Sunday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also visited the facility and chaired a meeting over the issue with central and state representatives. He had to face public outrage as some people staged protests during his visit and some political workers also showed his convoy black flags.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a group of symptoms that indicate an inflammatory condition of the central nervous system.
The symptoms include high fever, convulsions, confusion, extremely-low blood-sugar level and even coma. The outbreaks occur regularly in areas in and around Muzaffarpur during summer, and mostly affect children below 15 years of age.