Doctors issued medical certificates to unfit pilgrims: Report

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jammu: A group of doctors tasked to find the reasons for large number of Amarnath pilgrims’ death have reported to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra that most of the victims were unfit. The report said registered medical practitioners from outside the state had issued medical certificates to unfit pilgrims.

Vohra, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) responsible for conduct of the annual Amarnath pilgrimage, “has yet again asked to strictly follow the dos and don’ts and the health advisory for the yatris issued by the shrine board”, a statement issued by the board said.

The release stated that according to the doctors’ report, most of deceased had come ill prepared for the pilgrimage in terms of proper clothing.

Some of the pilgrims believed in a dip in the ice cold water before offering prayers at the cave shrine and some in fasting for three days before – both of which could be fatal, the report said.

Fasting caused low blood sugar which is especially fatal for diabetics, it said.

The doctors said that a majority of deaths could be due to high altitude pulmonary oedema (fluid in the lung which causes heart failure), which occurs due to ascent to more than 10,000 feet over a very short period of time.

The victims could also have died of hypothermia – a condition in which core body temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism.

“Meghna Gupta, 24, of Chandigarh and Rajinder Patidar, 30, of Madhya Pradesh lost their lives probably because of hypothermia after having holy dip in the ice cold water,” doctors reported.

Shakuntala Prasad, 59, of Bihar, was a patient of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a very high risk ailment for travel, but unfortunately she also had clearance from a registered medical practitioner, the report said.

Vohra, who chaired a meeting here, to review the progress of the yatra directed doctors to focus on the medical problems of the pilgrims. [Source: IANS]

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