Relatives of the 12 women who died after a state-run mass sterilisation campaign in India went horribly wrong have told local media they were forced by health workers to attend the camp.

More than 80 women underwent surgery for laparoscopic tubectomies at a free government-run camp in the central state of Chhattisgarh on Saturday. About 60 fell ill shortly afterwards, officials said. At least 14 were in a very serious condition by Wednesday and the death toll was expected to rise.

“The [health workers] said nothing would happen, it was a minor operation. They herded them like cattle,” Mahesh Suryavanshi, the brother-in-law of one casualty, told the Indian Express newspaper.

Such camps are held regularly across India as part of a long-running effort to control population growth.

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