Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey have been named in a case filed in a court in Muzaffarpur district on charges of negligence leading to the death of 100 children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

Social activist Tamanna Hashmi filed the case in the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate’s (CJM) court on Monday.

The petition said that Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey failed to fulfil their duties to control the outbreak of AES, while 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 court has fixed June 24 for hearing the case.

Hashmi said that he has filed the case against the accused, Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey, under 323, 308 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

As many as 100 children have died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, according to a hospital official.

The most number of child deaths have been reported at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital and Kejriwal Hospital.

Earlier on Sunday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan accompanied by Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey visited Muzaffarpur. The minister stressed the need for research on AES that has caused the deaths.

Harsh Vardhan, who reviewed the situation, said the Central government has been assisting the state government to control the situation after the outbreak of the AES.

He said that a new 100-bed Intensive Care Unit will be set up in SKMCH within a year to provide proper treatment to patients with AES symptoms.

Earlier in the day, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey’s convoy was shown black flags by the Hindustani Awam Morcha and Jan Adhikar Party Loktantrik supporters in Aurangabad.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called an emergency meeting with the senior officials of the health department.

Kumar had earlier said the Health Department was keeping a close watch and had directed people about the preventive measures. “Ahead of rains (monsoon), every year this disease creates havoc. It is a matter of concern that every year children die due to it.”

Meanwhile, SKMCH and Kejriwal Hospital in the city continue to receive fresh cases with symptoms akin to AES. The two hospitals are reverberating with the cries and wails of helpless parents as children continue to die of AES.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a severe case of encephalitis transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterised by high fever and inflammation of the brain.