‘It was a total administrative failure at a higher level,’ Dr Kafeel’s full letter

Dr Kafeel Ahmed Khan who was arrested in connection with the death of over 70 infants at BRD hospital in Gorakhpur last year, walked out free on Saturday. Visuals of his emotional reunion with the family after a harrowing experience he went through can make anyone cry.

Speaking to ANI, Khan said, “That day what I did was something that a father, doctor & a true Hindustani would’ve done. My job was to treat the children there I did extra work of arranging oxygen cylinders as liquid oxygen had got finished: Dr Kafeel Khan on returning home after getting bail.”

Ex-IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt tweeted Dr Kafeel’s picture captioning: “Dear Indians, These are the pictures of Dr Kafeel Khan, holding his mother and crying after reaching home. Hope you can see what all he has gone through. This is the way your government treats your real heroes. Do you still feel that you deserve heroes? I don’t think so!”

Dr Kafeel’s letter was handed to his wife, who then released it as a press conference. It has been reproduced in full:

I cherished each moment, every scene is still alive like it’s happening right now in front of my eyes, even after 8 months of unbearable torture, humiliation behind the bars. Sometimes, I ask myself, “Am I really guilty?” And the answer pops out from the core of my heart – a big NO.

The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that fateful 10 August 2017 night, I did everything a doctor, a father, a responsible citizen of India would/should do.

I tried to save each and every life which was in danger due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen. I did my level best to save those innocent kids who were dying because of lack of oxygen. I frantically called everyone, I begged, I talked, I ran, I drove, I ordered, I yelled, I screamed, I consoled, I counselled, I spent, I borrowed, I cried. I did all that is humanly possible.

I called my Head of the Department, my colleagues, principal BRD, acting principal BRD, DM (district magistrate) Gorakhpur, AD (additional director) Health Gorakhpur, CMS/SIC Gorakhpur, CMS/SIC BRD and informed them about the grave situation arising due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen and how kids’ lives are in danger due to lack of oxygen supply. (I have all the call records)

I begged gas suppliers – Modi Gas, Balaji, Imperial Gas, Mayur Gas Agency, all the hospitals around BRD Medical College – after arranging their contact numbers for jumbo cylinders to save hundreds of lives of innocent kids.

I paid them in (against) cash and assured them (that I) will pay (the) rest on delivery. (We arranged 250 cylinders/day until liquid oxygen tank arrived. One jumbo cylinder cost Rs 216/-)

I ran from one cubical to another, from Ward 100 to Ward 12 to emergency ward, from point of oxygen supply to the point of delivery to make sure uninterrupted oxygen delivery.

I drove to get cylinders from nearby hospitals in my car. When I realised that was not sufficient, I drove to SSB (Seema Suraksha Bal) and met its DIG (deputy inspector general) and explained (to) him the unprecedented situation. Their response was very quick and supporting. They arranged a big truck and (a) group of soldiers to carry empty cylinders from BRD to gas agency, filled it, brought to BRD and ran again to refill.

They worked for continuous 48 hours. Their spirit boosts ours. I salute (the) SSB and (am) very thankful for their help.

JAI HIND

I spoke to my junior/senior doctors, I ordered my staff, “Don’t get panic(ed), don’t be disheartened, don’t get angry with agitated parents, don’t take a break. We had to work as a team to treat efficiently to save every life.”

I consoled grieving parents who had lost their kids, I counselled those agitated parents who were getting angry after losing their kids. There was so much chaos. I explained them – liquid O2 (oxygen) is finished but we are trying to make it with jumbo cylinders.

I yelled/screamed at everyone to focus on saving lives. I cried, actually, everyone in the team cried, to see the havoc created by the administrative failure to pay the dues to the oxygen suppliers – resulting in such a grave situation.

We did not stop trying until liquid oxygen tank arrived around 1:30 am on 13-08-2017.

But my life turned upside down when CM Yogiji Maharaj arrived next morning on 13-08-17. He asked – so you are Dr Kafeel? Did you arrange cylinders?

I was like – yes sir.

He got angry – so you think by arranging cylinders, you became a hero, I will see it.

Yogiji was angry because – how this incident came into the media. I swear to my Allah, I did not inform any media person that night. They were already there that night itself.

Then police started coming to our home – hounding, threatening, torturing my family. People warned they would kill me in an encounter. My family, my mother, my wife, my kids were so scared that I do not have words.

I surrendered to save my family from the humiliation, misery – thinking when I have not done anything wrong, I should get justice.

But numbers of days, weeks and months passed – August 2017 to April 2018. Holi came, Dussehra came, Christmas is gone, New Year came, Diwali came – every date – Tareekh Par Tareekh (date after dates) hoping will get bail. Then we realised that judiciary is also working under pressure. (Even they acknowledged the same)

Sleeping on the floor with more than 150 prisoners in a cramped barrack with millions of mosquito at night and thousands of flies in the day. Trying to swallow food to live, bath half naked in the field and sit on a toilet with broken door. Waiting for Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday to meet my family.

Life is hell, miserable not only for me but for my whole family. They had to run from one pillar to another – from the police station to court, from Gorakhpur to Allahabad – in hope of justice. But all in vain.

My daughter whose first birthday I could not celebrate is now 1 year 7 months old. As a paediatrician, it is very painful, disheartening not to see his child grow. As a paediatrician, I used to teach parents importance of milestones and myself do not know when my daughter started walking, speaking and running.

So now again that question haunts me – am I really guilty? No, no – NO.

I was on leave on 10th August 2017. (It was sanctioned by my HoD). Still, I rushed to do my duties – is that wrong?

They made me the head of the department, vice chancellor of BRD, prabhari (in-charge) of 100-bed acute encephalitis syndrome (AEH) ward. I am a junior most doctor and joined only on 08-08-2016 as a permanent employee. I was working as the nodal officer with NRHM and lecturer paediatrics. My whole work is to teach students, treat kids. I was nowhere involved with purchase/tender/order/maintenance/supply/payment of liquid oxygen/jumbo cylinders.

If Pushpa Sales (the official supplier) stopped liquid oxygen supply, how am I responsible for that? Even non-medico could tell doctors’ work is to treat, not to buy oxygen.

The guilty are DM Gorakhpur, DGME (director general of medical education), principal secretary health education for not taking any action against 14 reminders sent by Pushpa Sales for its Rs 68 lakh dues.

It was a total administrative failure at a higher level, they did not realise the gravity and just to save themselves, they made us scapegoat and put us behind the bars so that truth will remain inside Gorakhpur jail.

When Manish Bhandari (director of Pushpa Sales) got bail, we same light that maybe now we would also get justice and come out to live with my family and to serve again.

But No – we are still waiting.

Supreme Court says – bail is the right, prison is an exception. This is a classical example of a miscarriage of justice.

I hope time would come and I would be free with my family and my daughter. The truth will prevail. Justice would be served.

A helpless, broken heart father, husband, brother, son and friend

Dr Kafeel Khan