Police have detained a doctor who performed mass sterilisation surgeries in central India that left 13 women dead and dozens ill in hospital, a senior officer said Thursday.
R.K Gupta was detained for questioning late Wednesday in Chhattisgarh state amid mounting anger over the surgeries conducted at a health camp on the weekend, police inspector general Pawan Deo told AFP.
The doctor operated in just five hours on 83 women who were paid 1,400 rupees ($23) under a government-run sterilisation scheme to reduce population growth.
"He has been taken into custody. He will be produced in the court in the afternoon today. He is likely to be arrested soon after," Deo said by phone from Bilaspur district.
Police were planning to seize equipment used during the surgeries, he said, amid fears that they were infected before the operations were carried out.
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.
Sterilisation is one of the most popular methods of family planning in India, and many state governments organise mass camps where rural women can undergo the usually straightforward procedure.
Although the surgery is voluntary, rights groups say the target-driven nature of the programme has led to women being coerced into being sterilised, often in inadequate medical facilities.
Under pressure to meet targets, some local governments offer additional incentives such as cars and electrical goods.