Dr Kafeel: a villain or a victim in a political conspiracy

Allegations of the doctor stealing oxygen cylinders are a blatant lie, feel observers, and his political affiliation is more likely to be the cause that led to such vilification

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Biswajeet Banerjee

The transformation from hero to villain can be very fast as Dr Kafeel Khan found out. One day, the media held him up as a hero and hailed him as a saviour of many lives at BRD College Hospital and the very next day the same media wrote his requiem after the Yogi Adityanath government removed him from his position as in-charge of Encephalitis department of the college which has witnessed death of over 70 children in the last one week.

But is Dr Kafeel really a villain who used his position to make money or is he a pawn in the political game of this sleazy drama where the only casualty is human life?

Dr Kafeel Khan hogged headlines when local newspapers in Gorakhpur reported that how this young doctor spent money from his own pocket to purchase oxygen cylinders when supply of the liquid oxygen dipped in BRD Medical College Hospital on the night of August 10. The reports say that Dr Khan managed few oxygen cylinders from some private hospitals so that lives of innocent children can be saved. The hospital had run out of oxygen and children in the paediatric wards were gasping for breath.

The news went viral and social media hailed Dr Kafeel Khan. This glory was, however, short lived.

Within hours of reports in the social media saying that Dr Kafeel is facing rape charges and the case is pending in Delhi High Court started doing the rounds, WhatsApp messages started pouring in, claiming Dr Kafel as a `cylinder chor’. The social media claimed that cylinders which Dr Kafeel bought on August 10 night were actually those cylinders which he had stolen from BRD Medical College. The posts said he apparently brought them back fearing he might be exposed.

The news appeared in local dailies that Dr RK Shukla (expelled Principal of BRD Medical College) and Dr Kafeel were responsible for maintaining oxygen supply in hospital. The media claimed that Dr Kafeel knew the exact position but he did not take any step to replenish the stock of oxygen.

On August 13, Dr Kafeel was transferred out of the Encephalitis ward without citing any reason. He has not been given any new assignment as yet.

The sequence of events raises many eyebrows. Manoj Singh, a local journalist, said the charges of cylinder chor did not stick. The oxygen cylinder is very heavy and it takes 4 to 5 people to lift that. Why will Dr Kafeel risk that? Moreover, oxygen costs Rs 32 per kg and the full cylinder will be of around Rs 2000. Will a doctor commit a theft of Rs 2000 and risk his reputation, he asks.

Secondly, about private practice, Dr Kafeel is not a permanent staff. He is appointed on an ad hoc basis. So he is entitled to do private practice,” Manoj said adding, “Name one doctor in BRD who is not doing private practice.”

Dr RN Singh, a convener of Encephalitis Eradication Campaign, said charges of cylinder chor were a lie. Dr Kafeel belongs to a good family. He has a nursing home which is doing very well. “The allegations that Dr Kafeel is a chor are a blatant lie. There is something else for which he has been punished,” Dr Singh said.

Dr Singh probably hinted at the political affiliation of Dr Kafeel. He is a known Samajwadi Party sympathiser who has tweeted in favour of SP through his twitter handle @dr_manipal. The twitter handle is now deactivated. He had tweeted in February about the political situation in Gorakhpur and suggested to Akhilesh Yadav that if Priyanka Gandhi held a rally there, the situation of the party could improve.

Between February 9 and 26, he wrote many tweets addressed to Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi which reflected his political affiliation and opposition against BJP. Some even say Dr Kafeel had joined BRD in 2016 on an ad hoc basis and became associate professor as well as in-charge of the encephalitis ward because of his links with Akhilesh Yadav .

Manoj said: “Dr Kafeel has become a pawn in some big conspiracy. Woh Sajish ka shikaar ban gaye kyonki woh Muslim hain (He is victimised because he is a Muslim).”

The conspiracy right now would only mean a cover-up of the real reasons that led to the deaths of the children.

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