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Months after Gorakhpur tragedy, accused doctor languishes in jail

Dr. Kafeel Ahmad Khan   | Photo Credit: AFP

The wait for bail continues for Dr. Kafeel Ahmad Khan, languishing in jail for eight months in connection with the death of infants in a Gorakhpur hospital allegedly due to lack of oxygen. On Friday, a single Bench of the Allahabad High Court fixed April 25 as the next date for hearing the bail plea, citing that the application filed by Dr. Khan’s lawyer was “not on record”.

“Counter affidavit filed… is placed on record. Sri [Sadaful Islam] Jafri, counsel for the applicant (Dr. Khan) pointed out that he has filed a reply on March 30, 2018, but the same is not on record. Office shall trace it and restore the same on the record,” Justice Yashwant Verma said.

Dr. Khan, then nodal officer of the National Health Mission and an assistant lecturer in the paediatric department of Baba Raghav Das Hospital in Gorakhpur, was initially hailed as a hero for using his resources to supply oxygen to the hospital during the crisis hour. However, he was later charged with attempt to commit culpable homicide, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy. The additional charges of corruption and private practice have already been dropped for lack of evidence.

Mr. Jafri said his client’s argument was that he was not the in-charge of the 100-bed ward in the hospital where 30 infants died over 48 hours last August. “Our contention is that the deaths were not caused due to our negligence,” Mr. Jafri said. The lawyer added that no arguments had taken place in the bail plea yet.

Health woes

Meanwhile, Dr. Khan’s family is frustrated with the delay in securing bail and has alleged that his health is deteriorating in jail as authorities are overlooking his health concerns and denying him proper treatment. Two days after his wife Shabista Khan approached the media with concerns over Dr. Khan’s health, he was taken to the Gorakhpur district hospital for a check-up on Thursday after he complained of chest pain and uneasiness. Dr. Khan suffers from a cardiovascular ailment.

As he was being escorted to a police vehicle, Dr. Khan pleaded innocence. “It (Gorakhpur hospital tragedy) was a total administrative failure. I am being framed,” he said, adding the doctors had no role in purchasing oxygen.

His brother Adeel Khan says the authorities in Gorakhpur district jail are not providing him a proper check-up outside the jail citing security reasons. “There are no cardio specialists in jail. His blood pressure is shooting up regularly. On March 25 he also underwent angiography after complaining of chest pain. The results showed slow blood flow and he had to be admitted till March 29. Yesterday, only an ECG was conducted. The Echo test and blood tests were not done,” said Mr. Adeel Khan.

Gorakhpur jail superintendent Dr. Ramdhani dismissed the family’s allegations. “We are treating him as per the advice of the doctors. He is healthy and even plays badminton in the jail compound,” he said.

Dr. Khan’s wife and brother are now planning to take the issue to New Delhi and are scheduled to address the media on Saturday along with H.S. Bhatti, president of the AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 12:14:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/months-after-gorakhpur-tragedy-accused-doctor-languishes-in-jail/article23622127.ece

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