Lodged in a Gorakhpur jail since September 2, 2017, after several children died in a short span at the city’s BRD Medical College Hospital in August last year, Dr Kafeel Khan has alleged that he and others are being made “scapegoats” for an “administrative failure” at a higher level.
In a letter from jail, dated April 18 and released to the media by Khan’s wife Shabista at the Press Club of India on Saturday, the paediatrician wrote that he was on sanctioned leave on August 10, 2017, when news reached him about the deaths, and he “rushed” to the hospital.
“The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that fateful night, I did everything a doctor, a father, a responsible citizen of India would/should do… I tried to save each and every life which was in danger due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen,” he wrote.
Khan claimed, “The guilty are DM Gorakhpur, DGME (director general of medical education), principal secretary health education for not taking any action against 14 reminders sent by Pushpa Sales for its Rs 68 lakh dues. It was a total administrative failure at higher level, they did not realise the gravity and just to save themselves, they made us scapegoat and put us behind the bars…”
He claims that his life “turned upside down” when UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited him the following day.
“He asked, ‘so you are Dr Kafeel? You arranged cylinders?’ I was…yes sir. He got angry — ‘so you think by arranging cylinders, you became hero, I will see it’,” Khan wrote. “Yogi-ji was angry because…how this incident came into the media.” He stated that he “did not inform any mediaperson that night”, and that they were “already there” when he reached the hospital.
Thereafter, he wrote, his family was “hounded” and “tortured”, forcing him to surrender.
Khan was booked for criminal conspiracy, attempt to commit culpable homicide and criminal breach of trust by public servant, among others. The police filed the chargesheet in November 2017. He was not chargesheeted under Prevention of Corruption Act and Information Technology Act.
At the press conference, Shabista said, “My husband has done no crime. If he wanted, he could have stayed home (during the emergency last August). On many occasions he has himself paid for supplies such as masks, gloves and sanitisers. The deaths were a result of administrative failure…”
Ravi Nair, executive director of South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, who also addressed the press conference, said all offences Khan and others were charged with are bailable.