A night of despair and anguish for families

A man said his relative got married only two months ago and despite the best efforts he couldn’t be saved

The district hospital in Chamarajanagar echoed with piercing wails of men and women in mourning on Monday.

Converted into a dedicated hospital for treating COVID-19 patients, it had the appearance of a morgue with families in distress as 23 people died in a span of 24 hours here, many of them allegedly due to lack of oxygen.

Young widow

โ€œMy relative was married only two months ago and he called me at 12.30 a.m. complaining of lack of oxygen. We rushed to the hospital to help but nobody was allowed inside. Then we received information that he had passed away,โ€ said Rajanna from a village near Chamarajanagar town. Besides Rajanna were other relatives of the deceased, including the victimโ€™s wife who was sobbing inconsolably.

Notwithstanding the official claims that not all deaths were because of oxygen scarcity, eyewitnesses said tension began to unravel around 10 p.m. when some of them received calls of a possible oxygen shortage and an urgent need for replenishment.

The issue was also brought to the attention of local journalists in Chamarajanagar by some of the relatives, and the scribes contacted officials and elected representatives. โ€œWe withheld filing the news pertaining to scarcity and decided to help those in distress as saving lives was more important,โ€ said a local correspondent of a prominent Kannada daily.

Pratap Simha, Mysuru MP, said he was alerted by local scribes from Chamarajanagar and he arranged for immediate dispatch of 50 oxygen cylinders. Though the oxygen cylinders did reach Chamarajanagar from 2 a.m onwards, it was too late for many of them.

Govt. in denial

Meanwhile, R. Narendra, Hanur MLA, lashed out at the government for โ€œsuppressingโ€ the exact number of dead between Sunday and Monday. He said as per as information based on data gleamed from various centres in his constituency, at least 35 people had lost their lives. But the authorities are withholding details, he alleged. โ€œI spoke to the Chief Secretary about the oxygen scarcity in the district but nobody has taken any action. I am in constant touch with the district medical officers, all of whom confirm that there is scarcity but the government is in denial,โ€ said Mr. Narendra.


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