Gorakhpur tragedy: Dr. Kafeel Khan gets clean-chit. Will Adityanath apologize?
In August 2017, 63 kids died at a government hospital in Gorakhpur, the "bastion" of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Quickly, the blame was put on Dr. Kafeel Ahmad Khan for not being aware of the shortage of oxygen cylinders. Now, two years later, he has been absolved of all accusations by a state government report. He got "justice", the deceased children didn't!
What happened at BRD Medical College hit the conscience of the entire nation. In just two days, 63 kids died due to lack of oxygen. Subsequently, Dr. Khan was suspended, an FIR was lodged against him, he was arrested, and he had to spend nine months in jail. He was charged with "medical negligence" and not apprising authorities about the supply shortage.
When Allahabad High Court granted bail to Dr. Khan, it noted that there's no direct evidence which points that he wasn't doing his job of a pediatrician properly. A 15-page report of investigative officer Himanshu Kumar suggests the same. The report was submitted on April 18, 2019, but handed over to him on Thursday by BRD officials after several months.
Kumar submitted the findings to UP's medical education department in which he noted Dr. Khan did everything in his capacity on the night of August 10-11, 2017, when there was an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders in the hospital. He wasn't the nodal medical officer-in-charge of the encephalitis ward, the report claimed, and added departmental documents which hinted otherwise were "inadequate and inconsistent".
On allegations that Dr. Khan indulged in private practice, something which government doctors aren't allowed to do, the report said he wasn't involved in it after August 2016. Kumar also absolved him of charges of corruption and underlined that the doctor had apprised his seniors of the shortage. In fact, Dr. Khan provided seven oxygen cylinders in his personal capacity on the fateful night.
Citing an RTI reply, the report added UP government accepted that assistant professor Dr. Bhupendra Sharma was in charge of the ward since May 11, 2016. "There is no material on record which may establish medical negligence against the applicant individually," the report read and added Dr. Khan wasn't involved in the tendering process. Unpaid dues to the supplier, purportedly, caused the tragedy.
Out on bail, Dr. Khan berated Adityanath's government for not informing about his clean chit for five months. "While the government has not been able to pin down the actual culprit yet, I have been made a scapegoat. The report was not sent to me in all these months," he said. He demanded an unconditional apology, compensation for victims, and a probe by CBI.
Saying he did everything as a "doctor, father, and Indian", Dr. Khan lamented, "For my efforts to save the lives of children, I was thrown behind bars, vilified by the media, my family was put through immense harassment and I was suspended from my job."
Those parents who lost their infants are still waiting for the justice.I demand that government should apologize and give compensation to the victim families.@PTI_News @TimesNow @myogiadityanath @narendramodi @ndtv @ravishndtv @abhisar_sharma @yadavakhilesh @RahulGandhi @UN pic.twitter.com/WaTwQSCUuZ— Dr kafeel khan (@drkafeelkhan) September 27, 2019