NEW DELHI: An online petition started on change.org is gathering signatures to put pressure on the government for the release of Dr. Kafeel Khan of Gorakhpur who is in jail for the past eight months. The petition started by one Jayaprakash Gosalakkal is directed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In two days, the petition has gathered around 700 signatures.
Dr. Khan of BRD Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh was arrested in September last year, two weeks after the death of scores of children at the hospital for shortage in oxygen supply due to non-payment to the vendor. Though this was a clear case of administrative failure on the part of the hospital, district administration and also the office of chief minister in Lucknow, some doctors including Dr. Khan were arrested.
When the incident happened on 10th August, Dr. Khan was on sanctioned leave, but as soon as he came to know about the tragedy he rushed to the hospital and for next 48 hours he continuously worked along with his team to save the children. He himself ran around the city collecting oxygen cylinders. His heroic deed was hailed by both parents and the media. However, on his visit to the hospital on 13th August, CM Yogi Adityanath was visibly upset with the media coverage of the incident. He even allegedly threatened to Dr. Khan in his face.
“My life turned upside down when CM Yogiji Maharaj arrived next morning on 13-08-17. 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. Yogiji was angry because – how this incident came into the media. I swear to my Allah, I did not inform any media person that night. They were already there that night itself,” Dr. Khan has noted in his 10-page letter from jail. His wife Dr Shabista released the letter to the press in New Delhi on 21st April. She also said that Dr. Khan is suffering with heart ailment in the jail, but not getting proper medical care.
Meanwhile, Indian Medical Association has also come out in support of Dr. Khan. IMA has alleged that case against Dr Khan is a conspiracy by certain officials in Gorakhpur and Lucknow.
IMA Secretary, Dr R P Shukla said the situation of lack of oxygen arose due to administrative slack, irresponsibility and corruption. For this officials from Gorakhpur to Lucknow are to be blamed and not doctors.
Dr. Khan’s bail plea is pending in the Allahabad High Court. His family said the government’s counsel is offering one excuse or other just to delay his bail.