Gorakhpur infants deaths: Allahabad HC orders Yogi govt to complete Dr Kafeel case in 90 days

The Allahabad High Court has ordered the Yogi Adityanath government to complete its enquiry against suspended paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan of BRD Medical College within 3 months

Ashlin Mathew

The Allahabad High Court has ordered the Yogi Adityanath government to complete its enquiry against suspended paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan of Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College within three months.

The Yogi government had made Khan the scapegoat in the deaths of many infants due to Japanese Encephalitis in Gorakhpur even though he had to save lives by bringing private oxygen cylinders in his car after the oxygen supply in the hospital had exhausted. At least 70 infants had died within 54 hours in August 2017 due to Japanese Encephalitis. Nine people were suspended, including three doctors Dr Rajiv Mishra, Dr Satish Kumar and Dr Khan.

“Let us see if they complete the case. We still have the option of going to the Supreme Court. The UP government has lied in court that I was not cooperating with the enquiry. If that is the case, then why are the other doctors still under suspension? We are going to file a review petition against this response. The High Court had given me a clean chit when they gave me bail after being in jail for nine months. They said I was not involved in the tendering of oxygen,” emphasised Khan.

He has written 27 letters to the departmental enquiry team headed by Himanshu Kumar, DGME KK Gupta and the Chief Minister regarding the case.

Khan has demanded an enquiry into the role of the two health ministers in the Yogi government—Sidharth Nath Singh and Ashutosh Tandon— for ignoring the 14 letters written to them by the supplier of liquid oxygen.

The government hadn’t paid the supplier for months and he had written the first letter on April 6, 2017, and he stopped the supply on August 10, 2017.

“On March 10, 2019, Tunisia's health minister resigned after 11 babies died in a hospital, but in case of the tragedy in Gorakhpur, the health minister who received several letters from the suppliers asking for their dues has responded with statements such as, “In August, several such deaths occur”. For me the real culprits of the BRD tragedy are those who ignored the letters sent by the supplier, the DM, the DGME and of course the two health ministers in the UP government,” pointed out Khan.

Another RTI response had revealed that Dr Kafeel Khan was the junior-most doctor in the department and not as claimed by the various sections of the media that he was the head of encephalitis ward and the vice principal. “I joined as a Lecturer by permanent commission only on August 8, 2016. I'll soon file defamation suit against Times Now and it’s ex-employee Mr Arnab Goswami soon for spreading fake news about me as Vice principal of BRD,” said Khan.

Khan, who was then a nodal officer of the National Health Mission and an assistant lecturer in the paediatrics department, was among the several doctors of the hospital indicted for the incident by a four-member committee led by the State Chief Secretary.

The government had also agreed in court that the infants had died due to natural causes and not due to a lack of oxygen supply. In an recent response to an RTI query, the government had also accepted that there was shortage of liquid oxygen for 54 hours in BRD medical College on August 10, 11, 12, 20 17 and Dr Kafeel Khan indeed arranged jumbo oxygen cylinders to save dying kids.

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