Furious protesters took to the streets in central India on Wednesday, smashing up cars and demanding the chief minister resign, as the death toll from a mass government-run sterilisation programme rose to 13.
Another 14 women are seriously ill in Chhattisgarh state after the surgery, which women are paid 1,400 rupees to have under a government scheme to reduce population growth.
“Preliminary examinations suggest septic shock may have caused the deaths,” said local government official Amar Thakur.
“It looks like the equipment that was used was probably infected. We are waiting for the report,” he told a foreign news agency by telephone from Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur district, where around 80 women had the surgery over the weekend.
The victims had suffered vomiting and a dramatic fall in blood pressure after undergoing laparoscopic sterilisation, a process in which the fallopian tubes are blocked.
As the death toll rose to 13 on Wednesday, a local official said women who attended a second sterilisation camp in the area on Monday had also fallen ill.
“Six women from Gorella camp developed complications and they have been brought to Bilaspur for treatment,” district commissioner Sonmani Borah said.
Shops and businesses shut their doors in the state capital Raipur on Wednesday as scores of demonstrators took to the streets to demand the resignation of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.
Television footage showed the protesters, many of them opposition party workers, chanting slogans and smashing up vehicles.