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The doctor who operated on 83 women in Chhattisgarh, India in accordance with a government-run sterilization program has been arrested.

Dr. R.K. Gupta faces charges of negligence and attempted culpable homicide in the deaths of a dozen women who underwent sterilization operations in India. Gupta claims the women died of drug intake post-procedure.

By Thursday, authorities had halted all sterilization procedures in the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh, according to Sonmani Bhora, the district’s commissioner. Six types of drugs — including certain painkillers and antibiotics — have been banned. Gupta claimed the women died due to those medications, distributed in a nearby village, rather than the operations themselves.

Chhattisgarh is one of India’s poorest states, and women are paid to participate in the sterilization program. In turn, doctors are given incentives to do the procedure.

It’s part of a campaign to curb population growth in India, a nation of 1.25 billion people, second only to China in population. Women get paid (the women in Chhattisgarh each got 1,400 rupees, or about $23) to have the operations. And doctors are given incentives to do them. Gupta told CNN prior to his arrest that local health officials awarded him for the large number of sterilizations he performed.

Conditions in the camps where surgeries take place are often unsanitary and dangerous.

“It was almost inevitable,” New Delhi-based Human Rights Law Network advocate Kerry McBroom said of the recent deaths, “given the unsafe, unethical and unhygienic conditions that persist throughout India in these camps.”

Gupta, who performed on 83 women in six hours, was only to perform on 30 women a day, according to government guidelines.

Autopsy results are to be released later this week and will determine if the women died from the surgeries, or the drugs they took after the procedure.


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