Dr Kafeel Ahmed Khan, who was in-charge of the encephalitis ward at BRD Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) on Saturday, reported news agency ANI. His arrest comes six days after he was suspended by the state government in connection with the deaths of over 60 children in five days in the week beginning August 7, allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply.
“Kafeel Khan was apprehended today at around 9 am from Gorakhpur and he is being handed over to Gorakhpur Police,” IG Special Task Force Amitabh Yash said.
Confirming that Khan was “apprehended”, a STF official on Saturday described it as major breakthrough in the case. Khan was one of nine people named in an FIR that was lodged on August 24 on directive of the state government. Apart from him, hospital principal Dr Rajeev Mishra, his wife Dr Purnima Shukla, Dr Satish Kumar (head of anesthesia), chief pharmacist Gajanan Jaiswal and clerks Uday Pratap Sharma, Sanjay Kumar Tripathi and Sudhir Kumar Pandey were also named.
In an enquiry conducted by the district administration and later by the chief secretary, Khan was found guilty of not adhering to the norms of the Indian Medical Council. Through the probe, it was also revealed that Khan had taken leave without seeking proper permission on August 11, the same day on which the hospital faced a shortage of oxygen supply. Further, it was found that he had delayed informing his seniors about the shortage of supply.
On Friday, non-bailable warrants were issued against seven of the nine people named in the FIR. Meanwhile, Mishra and his wife Shukla have been sent to 14-day judicial custody.
So far, 1304 children have died at the BRD hospital this year. Between August 27 and 29, 42 children died in the span of 48 hours; seven were allegedly suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). Officiating principal of the hospital, P K Singh, had said, “Till midnight on August 27, there were 342 patients in the paediatrics department, out of which, 17 died. Till midnight on August 28, there were 344 patients on bed and 25 of them died.”
Kafeel was the nodal officer of the 100-bed AES ward at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College.
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(With inputs from agencies)