PANDARI, India — The doctor whose sterilization of 83 women in less than three hours ended in at least 13 deaths said on Thursday he was not to blame for the tragedy. Dr R. K. Gupta, who faces charges of causing death by negligence, denied that his equipment was rusty or dirty. Gupta said health workers gave the women ciprofloxacin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and ibuprofen, a painkiller, after the operations, which were conducted in a grimy room of an unused private hospital in an Indian village called Pandari. Other women who became sick were operated on by a different doctor at a second camp on Monday. Gupta said this was evidence he was not to blame.
"I am not the culprit," Gupta said. "I have been made scapegoat." Police allege the room used as an operating room was hung with cobwebs, and that the fast turnover of operations meant there was no time to change bloodied sheets. India is the world's top sterilizer of women, and efforts to rein in population growth have been described as the most draconian after China. With more than four million Indians sterilized every year, a system of quotas encourages officials and doctors to cut corners, activists say.