Film ‘Jawan’ Draws Attention to Gorakhpur Tragedy, Dr. Kafeel Khan Reacts


Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – In a surprising twist that has sparked both conversation and gratitude, director Atlee has included a poignant sequence in his latest film, “Jawan,” which mirrors the tragic Gorakhpur hospital incident in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. This heart-wrenching event claimed the lives of over 80 patients, including 63 children, due to a shortage of liquid oxygen supply. Responding to the inclusion of this sequence in the film, Dr. Kafeel Khan, who played a heroic role during the actual crisis, expressed his appreciation towards Atlee and Shah Rukh Khan, who stars in the movie. Dr. Khan also pointed out the differences between the cinematic representation and the real-life tragedy.

At the time of the Gorakhpur hospital tragedy, Dr. Kafeel Khan, who was a junior lecturer in the paediatrics department at Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital, went to great lengths to mitigate the disaster. Initially hailed as a hero, he was later suspended by the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government and faced charges of medical negligence, corruption, and dereliction of duty. He endured eight months of imprisonment before eventually being exonerated.

“Jawan” appears to pay homage to Dr. Kafeel Khan by narrating a story in which Dr. Irum, portrayed by Sanya Malhotra, attempts to prevent a similar tragedy caused by a lack of oxygen supply, resulting in the deaths of 63 children. In the film, Irum also faces government scrutiny and arrest. However, unlike the real-life events, the culprits responsible for the oxygen shortage are ultimately held accountable in “Jawan.”

Taking to social media, Dr. Kafeel Khan expressed his gratitude, writing, “I haven’t seen ‘Jawan,’ but people have been messaging me, saying it reminded them of me. There is a lot of difference between the world of films and real life. In ‘Jawan,’ the culprits, including the health minister and others, get punished. But here, I and those 81 families are still waiting for justice. Thank you @iamsrk sir and @Atlee_dir sir for raising the social issue.”

In a video message accompanying his post, Dr. Khan emphasized the distinction between real and reel life. He highlighted that while the movie portrays the health minister being brought to justice, his own quest for justice remains unfulfilled.

Notably, Dr. Kafeel Khan had previously penned a book titled “The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: A Doctor’s Memory of a Deadly Medical Crisis,” which was originally published in English by Pan MacMillan in 2021. The book was launched in Tamil on September 3 in Chennai, showcasing its widespread impact. Dr. Khan recalled how numerous Indian publishing houses had initially refused to publish the manuscript, possibly due to concerns about potential backlash.

As “Jawan” continues to spark discussions about the Gorakhpur tragedy and the actions of Dr. Kafeel Khan, it serves as a poignant reminder of the blurred lines between reality and fiction, and the enduring quest for justice in both realms.

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