He demands apology from UP govt for 2017 deaths of children because of shortage of oxygen
NEW DELHI — Dr Kafeel Khan said on Monday that his struggle for justice will continue until he is reinstated. He also demanded a CBI investigation into the Gorakhpur hospital’s oxygen tragedy of August 2017.
Addressing a Press conference in New Delhi, Dr Khan said attempts to silence him have failed and he has become more conscious of his duty as a citizen. He asked the Uttar Pradesh government to publicly apologise and compensate the parents of the children who died in the tragedy.
On November 11, the Uttar Pradesh government terminated him from service after keeping him under suspension for four years in connection with the tragedy at Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College in Gorakhpur in 2017. A total of 63 children had died because of the shortage of oxygen supply. Dr Khan and two others were held responsible and suspended. Later, others were reinstated while Dr Khan remained suspended.
Dr Khan said he was terminated despite the matter being sub-judice at Allahabad High Court where the next hearing is fixed on December 7.
He said that in 2018, the court ruled that there was no medical negligence by him and that charges of corruption had also been dropped.
According to Dr Khan, the government terminated him on the grounds that he was doing private practice till August 2016 and that “I was in-charge of encephalitis ward (though I was never appointed on this post) but cleared me in charges of medical negligence and corruption while appreciating my efforts to save dying children that day”.
Recounting how he tried to save lives when the tragedy unfolded, Dr Khan said: “There was a shortage of liquid oxygen for fifty-four hours at the BRD Medical College from 10 to 12 August 2017, and I had indeed arranged jumbo oxygen cylinders to save many children from dying.”
He cited an April 2018 High Court ruling which observed that there was a shortage of liquid oxygen due to the abrupt disruption of liquid oxygen supply, which took place due to non-payment of dues to the supplier.
According to Dr Khan, the government accepted in its affidavit in the court that there was shortage of oxygen supply.
He said the government has accepted that he was not responsible for administrative and financial responsibilities at the hospital.
He also said that he had been on leave on the fateful day but when he learnt about shortage of oxygen supply he rushed to the hospital to try to save lives. “I and-my team managed to arrange 500 cylinders in those fifty-four hours,” he said.
Dr Khan raised many questions over investigations conducted into the tragedy:
When both Dr Rajiv Mishra, Principal; and Dr Satish Kumar, who was in-charge of oxygen supply, were on leave, who took their place and why was their role not investigated?
On the intervening night of 10 and 11 August, how many adults had died in the wards of other departments where the oxygen supply had also been affected – these included surgery, trauma, medicine and gynaecology.
Why was the role of other doctors in the paediatrics ward not investigated, especially the head of the department and the head of encephalitis?
What had doctors from other departments done about the oxygen shortage that night?
Who would investigate the role of top officials like the DM, the DGME and the principal secretary? Why were the chief minister, health minister and the minister for education not questioned particularly when letters written by Pushpa Sales about the non-payment of dues had been addressed to them?
Dr Khan said he will keep up raising questions and challenge his “wrongful termination” in the court.