It’s a tragedy of mammoth proportions that has shaken the conscience of the entire country. What’s worse? It’s man made. 63 children many of them new-borns have died the most tragic and seemingly avoidable death at Gorakhpur’s biggest hospital in just the last 5 days.

By all accounts these deaths have been caused by non-availability of oxygen. Coming just a day after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the hospital located on his home turf. The Uttar Pradesh govt denies that the deaths have been caused by a lack of oxygen supply but admits that there may have been negligence and so a probe has been ordered.

What the government has failed to explain is if a lack of oxygen didn’t kill these children then what did?

Curiously they’ve ordered a probe into the role of the oxygen supplier after denying that lack of oxygen led to the deaths. The government would have us believe encephalitis is responsible. But then why has the BRD medical college hospital principal have been suspended?

Here are some more facts that the govt needs to consider. On Thursday morning, employees who handle the storage plant at the hospital from where oxygen is piped wrote to the Chief Medical Officer informing him that the stock of liquid oxygen was limited and would last only till that evening. This was their second letter. The first sent a week earlier had gone unanswered.

At around 11:30 pm on Thursday, the oxygen did run out. What’s more? It was a tragedy waiting to happen because Pushpa Sales, the company providing liquid oxygen to the hospital, had threatened to stop the supply due to non-payment of outstanding dues worth almost 70 lakh.

And so the question is — Just who is responsible for these tragic deaths? Is this culpable homicide as the Congress alleges and should UP Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh resign? Is it a massacre as prominent child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has put it? And who is going to pay for this loss of life?

Is it not criminal negligence and apathy that has led to this tragedy days ahead of India’s 71st Independence Day?

Ironically coming at a time when people are being asked to prove their patriotism? Just how will Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath face his first acid test?