Dr Kafeel Khan: 8months in jail and no bail. We demand a speedy justice.
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Dr Kafeel Khan was arrested in November, 2017, following the tragedy at the Baba Raghav Das Medical college, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, in which over 60 children were supposed to have died of shortage of oxygen.
Please go through Dr Kafeel Khan’s letter from jail.
“ Eight Months in Jail Without Bail, Am I Really Guilty?
I cherished each moment, every scene is still alive like it’s happening right now in front of my eyes, even after eight months of unbearable torture and humiliation behind the bars. Sometimes, I ask myself, “Am I really guilty?” And the answer pops out from the core of my heart – a big NO.
The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that fateful 10 August 2017 night, I did everything a doctor, a father, a responsible citizen of India would/should do.
I tried to save each and every life which was in danger due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen. I did my level best to save those innocent kids who were dying due to lack of oxygen.
I frantically called everyone, I begged, I talked, I ran, I drove, I ordered, I yelled, I screamed, I consoled, I counseled, I spent, I borrowed, I cried. I did all what is humanly possible.
Also Read: “I Was Made a Scapegoat,” Writes Gorakhpur Accused Dr Kafeel Khan
I called my Head of the Department, my colleagues, principal BRD, acting principal BRD, DM (district magistrate) Gorakhpur, AD (additional director) Health Gorakhpur, CMS/SIC Gorakhpur, CMS/SIC BRD and 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, Balaji, Imperial Gas, Mayur Gas Agency, all the hospitals around around BRD Medical College – after arranging their contact numbers for jumbo cylinders to save hundreds of lives of innocent kids.
I paid them in (against) cash and assured them (that I) will pay (the) rest on delivery. (We arranged 250 cylinders/day until liquid oxygen tank arrived. One jumbo cylinder cost Rs 216/-)
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 ensure uninterrupted oxygen delivery.
I drove to get cylinders from nearby hospitals in my car. When I realised that was not sufficient, I drove to SSB (Seema Suraksha Bal) and met its DIG (deputy inspector general) and explained (to) him the unprecedented situation. Their response was very quick and supporting. They arranged a big truck and (a) group of soldiers to carry empty cylinders from BRD to gas agency, filled it, brought to BRD and went again to refill.
They worked for 48 continuous hours. Their spirit boosted ours. I salute (the) SSB and (am) very thankful for their help.
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 O2 (oxygen) is finished but we are trying to make it with jumbo cylinders.
We did not stop trying until liquid oxygen tank arrived around 1:30 am on 13 August 2017.
But my life turned upside down when CM Yogiji Maharaj arrived next morning on 13 August 2017. 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 of 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.
Then the police started coming to our home – hounding, threatening, torturing my family. People warned that they would kill me in an encounter. My family, my mother, my wife, my kids were so scared that I do not have words.
I surrendered to save my family from the humiliation, misery – thinking when I have not done anything wrong, I should get justice.
But numbers of days, weeks and months passed – August 2017 to April 2018
Sleeping on floor with more than 150 prisoners in a cramped barrack with millions of mosquitoes at night and thousands of flies in the day. Trying to swallow food to live, bathe half-naked in the field and sit in a toilet with a broken door. Waiting for Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday to meet my family.
Life is hell, miserable not only for me but also for my whole family. They had to run from one pillar to another – from police station to court, from Gorakhpur to Allahabad – in hope of justice. But all in vain.
My daughter, whose first birthday I could not celebrate, is now one year and seven months old. As a pediatrician, it is very painful, disheartening not to see his child to grow. As a pediatrician, I used to teach parents the importance of milestones, and now I do not know when my daughter started walking, speaking and running.
So now again that question haunts me – am I really guilty? No, no – NO.
I was on leave on 10 August 2017. (It was sanctioned by my HoD). Still, I rushed to do my duties – is that wrong?
They made me head of the department, vice chancellor of BRD, prabhari (in-charge) of 100-bed acute encephalitis syndrome (AEH) ward. I am a junior-most doctor and joined only on 8 August 2016 as a permanent employee. I was working as nodal officer with NRHM and lecturer pediatrics. My whole work is to teach students, treat kids. I was nowhere involved with the purchase/tender/order/maintenance/supply/payment of liquid oxygen/jumbo cylinders.
If Pushpa Sales (the official supplier) stopped liquid oxygen supply, how am I responsible for that? Even non-medicos could tell doctors’ work is to treat, not to buy oxygen.
The guilty are the DM Gorakhpur, DGME (director general of medical education), principal secretary health education for not taking any action against 14 reminders sent by Pushpa Sales for its Rs 68 lakh dues.
It was a total administrative failure at a higher level, they did not realise the gravity and just to save themselves, they made us scapegoats and put us behind bars so that truth will remain inside Gorakhpur jail.
When Manish Bhandari (director of Pushpa Sales) got bail, we were hoping we would also get justice and be released to live with my family and to serve again.
But No – we are still waiting.
Supreme Court says – bail is the right, prison is exception. This is a classical example of miscarriage of justice.
I hope time would come and I would be free with my family and my daughter. Truth will prevail. Justice would be served.
A helpless, broken-heart father, husband, brother, son and friend”.
Dr Kafeel Khan
(This letter was handed to Dr Kafeel Khan’s wife, who then released it as a press conference. It has been reproduced in full.)
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