NEW DELHI — #ReleaseOurDrKafeelKhan trended on Twitter on Sunday amassing over a hundred thousand tweets under the hashtag as netizens demanded his release, saying he was being punished for speaking up on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
The online protest started on a call given by the All India Students Association to observe the “National Protest Day” seeking release of political prisoners. The association asked the social media users to Tweet a message with the hashtag.
Demand to #ReleaseOurDrKafeel is rising from all sections of society & trending on Number one with 1 Lakh 14 thousand tweets & counting. In a democratic country this number speaks a lot about people’s mind. Thank you all for your support. I hope government will listen to us. pic.twitter.com/ZIG6xE5sTx
— Harjit Singh Bhatti (@DrHarjitBhatti) July 19, 2020
Dr Khan, a pediatrician from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, is in jail in Mathura since late January when he was arrested after he had made a speech calling for revocation of the CAA. The police said the speech was “provocative”. Just as he was granted bail in the case, the police booked him under the controversial National Security Act (NSA) which allows the state to jail the accused for up to 12 months or beyond if “fresh evidence” is brought in.
Since 2014,BJP Govt have been systemically involved in suppressing the voices which speaks against anti-people & divisive policies of BJP.
Arrest of Dr Kafeel Khan who was helping the people is an example of authoritarian regime.
— Nadeem Javed (@nadeeminc) July 19, 2020
Prominent personalities from different sections of society joined the campaign calling for Dr Khan’s release. These included Bollywood actors Richa Chadha and Swara Bhasker.
— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) July 19, 2020
Sharing videos of Dr Khan working on the field, the tweets hailed the incarcerated doctor for his philanthropic and humanitarian approach to the profession.
— Umar Khalid (@UmarKhalidJNU) July 19, 2020
Not long ago, a letter by Dr Khan from jail cropped up on social media in which he talked about the conditions inside the jail amid the coronavirus scare. He said that there was one toilet for 150 inmates. “The entire barrack seems like fish market infused with all kinds of smell, including someone coughing, sneezing, farting, urinating or sweating. Some people snore, some fight, some scratch themselves”. He branded the jail “a living hell”.
— Vandana Sonkar (@Vndnason) July 19, 2020
Urging the Prime Minister to consider his request for voluntary work “to help the nation” fight with the coronavirus crisis, he wrote: I have held 103 medical camps across India. I feel I could be of some help in curtailing this disease.”
Dr Khan first became the center of national attention in August 2017 when the government accused him of medical negligence after the death of 60 children in a Gorakhpur hospital due to shortage of oxygen. He was arrested and jailed for nine months even though activists had claimed that he was being falsely blamed for the wrongs of others.
However, two years later, he was cleared of all the charges as a departmental inquiry found that he had not committed any act of medical negligence.
In December last, when the government passed the CAA, it triggered nationwide months-long protests. Dr Khan lent his support to the protests and appeared at many sit-ins and marches. He was arrested in Mumbai in January and since then he is behind bars awaiting bail.