- 63 children died at Gorakhpur hospital in August 2017, in two days
- Dr Kafeel Khan was arrested in September 2017, released on bail later
- A 15-page government probe report was given to him on Thursday
Two years after a doctor at a government hospital in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur was suspended, arrested and jailed for his alleged role in the deaths of over 60 children due to alleged oxygen shortage, a state government report has cleared him of all major accusations. Dr Kafeel Khan has demanded an apology from the Yogi Adityanath government.
Dr Kafeel Ahmad Khan was posted as a pediatrician or child care specialist at the BRD Medical College in August 2017 when 63 children died in just two days, between August 10 and 11, allegedly because the oxygen supply to the children's ward at the hospital, including critical care units, ran out.
Now, a 15-page government probe report handed over to Dr Khan on Thursday also supports what the High Court has said. The report was submitted to the state government in April 2019 by Himanshu Kumar, a senior IAS officer who was in charge of the investigation against Dr Khan.
"The tag of murderer, infamous qatil (murderer) Dr Kafeel has been removed," Dr Khan told NDTV after he got the clean chit.
After massive outrage and a visit by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to the hospital in his hometown, Dr Kafeel Khan was suspended. While suspending him, the Uttar Pradesh government said he had failed to take prompt action or warn his superiors about the impending crisis despite knowing about the situation.
The government had also claimed that Dr Khan was the nodal medical officer in charge of the crucial encephalitis ward at the hospital and therefore, would have known about any critical shortages. Thousands of children are admitted to the Gorakhpur hospital's encephalitis ward every year.
An FIR was later registered against nine persons, including Dr Khan and the former principal of the medical college. On September 2, 2017, Dr Khan was arrested by UP Police and sent to jail.
Eight months after he was jailed, Dr Kafeel Khan was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in April 2018, with the court saying there was no direct evidence of negligence on his part.
"I would love to spend time with my kids. My daughter was 10 months old when they took me away. When I came back, she was not recognising me," Dr Khan told NDTV. "Even today, if I have to save one kid, I'll do it again," he added.
"While the government has not been able to pin down the actual culprit yet, I have been made the scapegoat. The report was not sent to me in all these months. Now, the Medical Education Department has asked me to come forth to present my case on the private practice issue, which is not even related to the tragedy," Dr Khan said in statement released earlier.
"The government should tender an apology, provide victims with compensation and get the incident probed by the CBI," he added.
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@UNpic.twitter.com/WaTwQSCUuZ— Dr kafeel khan (@drkafeelkhan) September 27, 2019
The findings of the report say the Dr Khan was not guilty of medical negligence, he was not guilty of being involved in the tendering process of supplying oxygen to the hospital or involved in any associated corruption.
The report also notes that Dr Khan was not the nodal officer of the encephalitis ward at BRD Medical College. It however notes that the doctor was involved in private practice till August 2016 , something government doctors are not permitted to do.
The report also says the Dr Khan had informed his seniors about the oxygen shortage, and had provided the probe officer with call details. Dr Khan also told the investigating officer, the report notes, that he provided seven oxygen cylinders to the hospital in his personal capacity on the night of the tragedy.
"I always knew I have not done anything wrong. On that fateful day, I did what I could do best, as a doctor, father and a common Indian. But 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," Dr Kafeel Khan said in a media statement.
The Uttar Pradesh government has not reacted to the development yet.
(With inputs from IANS)