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Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”
Dr Khan came into the limelight in August 2017, when following a surge of Japanese B encephalitis, he used his personal resources to meet the gap in oxygen supply in Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital, Gorakhpur, helping save the lives of several children. “The sudden publicity that he, a Muslim doctor, received inflamed the wrath of chief minister Adityanath Bisht, who is known mostly for his extremely communalised leadership”, alleges the letter.
“Does the fact that he is a Muslim mean that he is less entitled to legal and judicial recourse? If yes, then the words that India is a secular, socialist democracy ring hollow. How are individuals supposed to access justice if a chief minister takes a personal vendetta and bypasses all judicial orders?”, the letter wonders.


We, the undersigned, are a group of academicians, activists, researchers, doctors, lawyers who are deeply concerned about growing communalisation in India, which is adversely affecting people’s livelihoods, right to food, right to health and leading to social and economic boycotts, harassment, physical violence and deep psychological consequences.
In this letter, we would like to draw attention to the completely unacceptable and illegal incarceration of Dr. Kafeel Khan, a paediatrician, who has been imprisoned under the draconian National Security Act (NSA).
Dr Kafeel Khan came into the limelight in August 2017, when a surge of Japanese B encephalitis cases took the lives of hundreds of children, specifically due to the lack of oxygen supply, in Baba Raghav Das Medical college and hospital, Gorakhpur, UP. Dr. Khan, using his personal resources to meet the gap in oxygen supply, and with a team of healthcare personnel, helped to save the lives of several children. 
The sudden publicity that he, a Muslim doctor, received inflamed the wrath of the chief minister, Adityanath Bisht, who is known mostly for his extremely communalised leadership, instigating hatred and calling for violence on Muslims. At that time Dr Khan was put into prison and only released after 9 months when the court gave him bail for want of evidence.
On September 22, 2018, Dr Kafeel went to examine, with permission, the ‘mysterious disease’ that had killed 70 children in 45 days at Bahraich district hospital. Even from here he was picked up and kept in illegal custody for 18 hours, after which sections of the IPC were evoked, and he was kept in prison for a month.
On January 29, 2020, Dr. Kafeel Khan, was again arrested from Bombay airport. On March 19, he penned a letter to the Prime Minister requesting he be released to add to the healthcare work force that was already short numbered. On February 13, 2020 NSA charges were put on him.
On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court had, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, directed that all prisoners, under trial or convicted and jailed for less than 7 years, should be considered for release on a six-week parole. Dr Kafeel Khan was the only prisoner who was not released and his parole order was suspended.
Should the Supreme Court not intervene to ensure that its orders are implemented, failing which amounts to contempt of court?
The message that this incarceration sends out is that anyone who challenges the government will be brutally suppressed. It is important that citizens, particularly patients, understand that when healthcare staff are not allowed to speak out against violations in healthcare delivery, then it is they, the patients, who suffer.
Japanese B Encephalitis has taken a deadly toll of lives earlier, and any reasonable government would see a doctor who has expertise in the disease as a vital resource to plan preventive strategies. The incident in August 2017, threw light on the pathetic condition of the Gorakhpur hospital which has been allowed to go into dire condition only because of sheer negligence by the government – a story that has been repeating across public hospitals and even more visible in the current Covid-19 pandemic.
However Dr. Khan continues to be targeted at the behest of the chief minister. When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the NSA? Does the fact that he is a Muslim mean that he is less entitled to legal and judicial recourse? 
If yes, then the words that India is a secular, socialist democracy ring hollow. How are individuals supposed to access justice if a chief minister takes a personal vendetta and bypasses all judicial orders? Should the Supreme Court not intervene to ensure that its orders are implemented, failing which amounts to contempt of court?
Clamping down on freedoms have a way of spreading like a Covid-19 pandemic, and before one knows it community spread would have taken place, at which point, solutions are hard to come by. We therefore urge all citizens to come together to challenge the illegal incarceration of Dr Kafeel Khan, his immediate release and re-instatement in the hospital, so that he can fulfill his obligations as a doctor.
Click here for the list of signatories


SHAMIM said…
Free Doctor Kafeel Khan
Bimalananda Kayak. said…
The worst variety of leadership is"to draw power from position".When undeserving people occupy positions this happens very often.

I don't understand how the UP Government especially Yogi is getting away comfortably from not obeying the Court's orders. Government RIPed, Courts RIPed, Media RIPed!


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