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Punjab defends itself on infant's death during protest

Posted on Feb 08 2014 | IANS

Chandigarh, Feb 8 : Under fire from various quarters, especially the opposition Congress, over the death of an infant girl due to cold during a protest, the Punjab government Saturday defended itself on the issue saying that the infant died in hospital due to other complications.

"Eknoor Kaur, the 14-month-old infant who passed away at the Bathinda Civil Hospital on Feb 6 (Thursday), was suffering from infantile tremor syndrome and doctors who attended to her feel aspiration could be the cause of her death," a state government spokesman said here.

Eknoor's mother, who was part of a protest by education guarantee scheme (EGS) teachers in Bathinda, alleged that the child died due to the prevailing cold after police and local authorities took away the protestors' blankets and quilts and also did not allow them to pitch tents.

Joined by other organisations, the protestors have kept the infant's body and refused to cremate it. The protestors also blocked roads and highways in Bathinda Friday.

The Congress has demanded action against those responsible for the death of the infant girl.

However, officials contradicted the parent's version.

Bathinda's Civil Surgeon Ajay Sahni said: "Eknoor was admitted to the civil hospital on the evening of Feb 3 after she fell ill when her mother was protesting on top of the water tank and wanted the medical staff to come and check the child there itself."

"The infant was in a weak state with a history of being only milk-fed despite being 14 months old. The infant also had a history of involuntary tremors."

Sahni claimed that proper medical attention was given to the girl after she was brought to the civil hospital.

"A MRI scan was done at the expense of the hospital administration and revealed spaces in the ventricles in the brain. This happens in case of vitamin deficiency," he said, adding that the health condition of the infant improved after intervention by doctors.

"The sudden death of the child at around 2 a.m. on Feb 6 could be because of aspiration or cardiac myopathy which happens when the cardiac muscles do not contract properly," he said.

Bathinda has been venue of a series of protests by various organizations in recent months as it is represented in Lok Sabha by Harsimrat Badal, the wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal and daughter-in-law of Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The mother of the infant has been protesting to get a job with Punjab's education department.

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