“8 Months. In Jail Without Bail. Am I Really Guilty? Sometimes I ask myself, am I really guilty? And the answer pops out from core of my heart, no, no – A Big No,” writes Dr. Kafeel Khan in a letter from the Gorakhpur jail.
NEW DELHI: Dr Kafeel Khan, who was hailed as hero by parents and media for saving scores of children at the BRD Medical College & Hospital in Gorakhpur in August last year, has been in jail for the past eight months for the tragedy that occurred at the hospital at that time.
In an emotional letter that he wrote from the jail on 18th April and was shared with the media in New Delhi by his wife on 21st April, Dr. Kafeel has given details about what happened on 10th August at the hospital and what he did for the next few days to save lives of children.
He was on a formally sanctioned leave on 10th August 2017 when children began dying at the BRD Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur for shortage in oxygen supply. He rushed to the hospital and for next several days, he worked day and night and saved scores of children.
However, soon after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the hospital on 13th August, his life turned upside down for him. Two weeks after Yogi’s visit, Dr Khan was arrested and has since been in jail.
To his 10-page letter, Dr Kafeel Khan himself gave a title:
“8 Months. In Jail Without Bail. Am I Really Guilty?”
“Sometimes I asked myself, am I really guilty? And the answer pops out from core of my heart, no, no – A Big No.”
In several pages, he gives details about what he did when he got a message on WhatsApp about the tragedy.
“The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that fateful 10th August 2017 night, I did everything as a Doctor, a father, a responsible citizen of India would/ should do. I tried to save each and every life who was in danger due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen. I did my level best to save those innocent kids who were dying because of lack of oxygen.”
In search of oxygen, I ran around
“I frantically called everyone, I begged, I talked, I ran, I screamed, I consoled, I counseled, I spent, I borrowed, I tied, I did all what is humanly possible.
I called my head of the department, my colleagues, Principal BRD, Acting Principal BRD, DM, GKP, CMS/SIC BRD MC informed them about the grave situation arising due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen and how kids’ lives are in danger due to lack of oxygen supply. (I have all the call records).
I begged Gas suppliers Modi Gas, Bala Ji, Imperial Gas, Mayur Gas Agency, all the hospital around BRD Medical College after arranging their contact no – for jumbo cylinders to save hundreds of life of innocent kids.
I paid them in cash and assured them will pay rest on delivery. (we arranged 250 cylinders/day until liquid oxygen tank arrived. One jumbo cylinder cost 216/rs).
I ran from one Cubical to another, from ward 100 to ward 12 to Emergency ward, from point of oxygen supply to the point of delivery to make sure uninterrupted oxygen delivery.
I drove to get cylinder from nearby hospitals in my car. When I realized that was not sufficient I drove to SSB (Seema Suraksha Bal) and met its DIG and explained him the unprecedented situation. Their response was very quick and supporting. They arranged a big truck and group of soldiers to carry empty cylinder from BRD to gas agency, filled it, brought to BRD and ran again to refill. They worked for continuous 48 hours.
Their spirit boosts ours. I salute SSB and very thankful for their help. Jai Hind.”
I asked my team not to get angry with agitated parents
“I spoke to my junior/senior doctors, I ordered my staff, don’t get panic, don’t be disheartened, do not get angry with agitated parents, do not take break, we had to work as a team to treat efficiently to save every life.
I consoled grieving parents who had lost their kids, I counseled those agitated parents who were getting angry after losing their kids. There was so much chaos. I explained to them – liquid oxygen is finished but we are trying to make it with jumbo oxygen cylinders.
I yelled/screamed to everyone to focus on saving lives. I cried, actually everyone in the team cried to see the havoc created by the administrative failure to pay the dues to the oxygen suppliers – resulting in such a grave situation.
We did not stop trying until liquid oxygen tank arrived around 1:30 am on 13.08.17.”
My life turned upside down when CM Yogi…
In the letter, Dr. Khan mentions his brief encounter with CM Yogi at the hospital on 13th August morning.
“My life turned upside down when CM Yogi Ji Maharaj arrived next morning on 13.8.17. He asked – so you are Dr Kafeel, you arranged cylinders? I was like – Yes Sir. He got angry – so you think by arranging cylinders – you became hero – I will see it.
Yogi Ji was angry because – how this incident came into media. I swear to my Allah I didn’t inform any media person that night. They were already there that night itself.
Then police started coming to our home – howling, threatening, torturing my family. People warned they would kill me in an encounter. My family, my mother, my wife, my kids were so scared that I don’t have words.
I surrendered to save my family from the humiliation, misery – thinking when I have not done anything wrong I should get justice.”
Is Judiciary working under pressure?
“Number of days passed, weeks, months – August 17 to April 18, Holi came, Dasshera came, Christmas gone, New Year came, Diwali came, every date tareekh par tareek hoping will get bail,” says Dr. Kafeel highlighting how his case is being delayed and he is not getting bail.
Then we realized that judiciary is also working under pressure. (even they acknowledged the same).”
My life is hell in jail
“I am sleeping on floor with more than 150 prisoners in a cramped barrack with millions of mosquitos in night and thousands of flies at day.
Trying to swallow food to live, bath half naked into the field shit in a toilet with broken door. Waiting for Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday to meet my family.
Life is hell, miserable not only for me, for my whole family. They had to run from one pillar to another – form police station to court – form Gorakhpur to Allahabad – in hope of justice – but all in vain.
My daughter whose first birthday I could not celebrate is now I year 7 months old. As a pediatrician it is very painful, disheartening not to see his child to grow. As a pediatrician I used to thought parents importance of milestones and myself don’t know when my daughter started walking, speaking, running.
So now again that question haunts me – am I really guilty? No No – No.”
I was made scapegoat for administrative failure
“I was on leave on 10th August 2017 (it was sanctioned by my HOD). Still I rushed to do my duties – is that wrong? They (media/govt) made me head of the department, vice chancellor of BRD, 100 ward Prabhari. I am a junior most doctor and joined only on 8 August 2016 as a permanent employee. I was working as Nodal officer NRHM and lecturer pediatrics whose work is to teach students, treat kids.
I was nowhere involved with purchase / tender/order/maintenance/supply/payment of liquid oxygen/jumbo cylinders.
If Pushpa Sales stopped liquid oxygen supply, how I am responsible for that? Even nonmedioc could tell doctor work is to treat not to buy oxygen.
The guilty are DM GKP, DGME, Medical Education, Principal Secretary, Health/education for not taking any action against 14 reminders sent by Pushpa Sales for his 68 lakh dues.
It was a total administrative failure at higher level, they did not realize the gravity and just to save themselves they made us scapegoat (bali ka bakra) and put us behind the bars so that truth will remain inside Gorakhpur jail.”
After the 10th August tragedy, media had reported that some of the reminders had reached the office of CM Yogi Adityanath, yet the pending bills of the gas agency were not cleared in time.
Later, Principal of the BRD College and some other officials were also arrested for sitting on the bills for months.
Truth will come out, I will be free
“When Manish (of gas agency) got bail, we saw some light, that may be now we would also get justice and come out to live with my family to serve again.
But No – we are still waiting.
Supreme Court says – Bail is one’s right – prison is exception. This is a classic example of miscarriage of justice.
I hope time would come, I will be free. Truth will come out. Justice would be served”
Dr Khan ends the letter on this line: “A helpless, broken hearted father/husband/brother/son/friend, Dr Kafeel Khan”.