Gorakhpur: RTI reply clears Dr Kafeel; Yogi govt admits to oxygen shortage

In an RTI reply, Yogi government accepted that BRD hospital had a shortage of oxygen and six oxygen cylinders were managed by Dr Kafeel Khan on August 11, 2017

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Biswajeet Banerjee

Almost a year ago, 30 children died on the night of August 11, 2017, in the encephalitis and neo-natal ward of BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur and later the toll rose to 61 in three days sparking national wide debate about state of government hospitals where children died because there was no oxygen in the hospital.

At that time, the state government contested, on the basis of several probe reports, that oxygen supply had dipped temporarily in the wards but there was no shortage of oxygen in the hospital. A year later, on July 4, the government accepted that hospital had shortage of oxygen and it had got oxygen cylinders from two unauthorised persons on August 11, 2017.

In an reply to an RTI query filed by Sanjay Sharma, the BRD Medical College accepted that on August 11, Dr Kafeel Khan, the former nodal officer of the hospital, managed to get six oxygen cylinders from Anandlok Nursing Home, Gorakhpur, and four others.

Gorakhpur: RTI reply clears Dr Kafeel; Yogi govt admits to oxygen shortage

Incidentally, it is the same Dr Kafeel Khan who had been claiming that there was shortage of oxygen in BRD Medical college on the night of August 11 and he had himself brought cylinders. The hospital administration that time had not accepted his version of story because Dr Kafeel was vocal in blaming administration for not releasing funds to the oxygen suppliers. Later, Dr Kafeel was arrested and sent to jail along with Principal of the BRD College and seven others.

“The same administration now admits through RTI query that Dr Kafeel had brought four oxygen cylinders to help the children who were in distress,” said Sharma, the RTI activist based in Lucknow.

The then Chief secretary Rajiv Kumar in his probe found Principal of the BRD Medical College Dr Rajiv Mishra, Dr Kafeel and others guilty and had recommended criminal action against Dr Mishra, HoD anaesthesia paediatric department Satish, in-charge of 100-bed AES ward Kafeel Khan and Pushpa Sales, the agency which supplied Oxygen cylinders to the Medical college..

On August 24, an FIR was filed against nine persons, including Mishra, his wife Purnima Shukla and Kafeel Khan. On September 2, 2017, Khan was arrested and subsequently removed from his post in the hospital.

Dr Kafeel got bail on April 24, 2018, from Allahabad High Court while the Principal was not that lucky as he had to move Supreme Court and got bail on July 4.

“The Government was not very comfortable in sharing this information. I had filed the RTI query on August 14, 2017, but gave partial reply on July 4, which reached me on July 27 that too, when I lodged a complaint with Information Commission. Much of the information were denied saying the issue is sub-judice,” said Sharma.

He said it is almost a year but no administrative action has been taken. It would be prudent if CM first takes administration action against the guilty before unfurling the Tri-colour of August 15.

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