Patna: An FIR was lodged on Tuesday against 39 people in Harivanshpur, Muzaffarpur after they protested over the lack of water supply and death of several children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the area.

Relatives of those against whom FIR has been registered told ANI, “Our children have died. We did gherao roads but the administration has filed FIR against us. Men against whom FIR has been registered have left the village and gone away. They were the only breadwinners.”

This, in short, means that now those left behind are on their own as the protesters, most of them breadwinners, have left the village.

While the frustration of families of the deceased is only understandable, the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) had earlier ordered a probe against Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Minister Mangal Pandey, in connection with the deaths.

Last week, social activist Tamanna Hashmi had filed the case in the CJM’s court against the ministers. In the petition, Hashmi alleged that Harsh Vardhan and Pandey failed to fulfill their duties to control the outbreak of AES. Both had done nothing to create awareness and sensitise people in the affected areas despite the fact that AES had been killing children for years, the petition alleged.

“A large number of children died due to negligence and lack of infrastructure to give them timely proper treatment,” it said.

Harsh Vardhan, accompanied by the Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and the Bihar Health Minister had visited the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur on June 16.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court had reprimanded Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government over the deaths of 163 children across the state due to AES.

The top court asked the state government to file an affidavit on the questions concerning the adequacy of medicines and nutrition and hygiene amongst others in a week’s time. “This can’t go on, we need answers,” the top court had said.