Karnataka leader of opposition Siddaramaiah demanded a judicial inquiry into the death of 24 COVID-19 patients allegedly due to oxygen shortage in the district hospital in Chamarajanagar, on Monday.

The state government has ordered a probe into the incident by a committee headed by IAS officer and transport secretary Shivayogi Kalasad, and sought a report within three days.

"This is murder committed by the government. These deaths were totally preventable if only the hospital had enough oxygen supply. Chamarajanagar needs 300 cylinders of oxygen a day. There had been a shortage since Friday. But the district administration did not take adequate measures to maintain the oxygen stock. It is the total negligence of the state government and irresponsible behaviour of the officers that are responsible for the deaths," said Siddaramaiah, adding that the government should order an independent inquiry into the tragedy.

BJP national general secretary C.T. Ravi suggested that the government takes responsibility for the incident. "Whoever has been negligent, be it the officer or the in-charge minister, is responsible for the tragedy. If the higher ups had come to know of the oxygen shortage and failed to act, they are to blame. I have urged the chief minister to declare a health emergency," said Ravi.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar, who visited Chamarajanagar, insisted that not all 24 deaths were due to oxygen shortage. "Three patients have died due to oxygen scarcity. The rest of the deaths were caused due to different reasons. The government has ordered a probe and we will take action once we get the inquiry report."

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