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2 yrs on, UP probe clears Gorakhpur doctor Kafeel Khan of medical negligence, other charges

Accused of negligence after 63 children suffering from encephalitis died in Gorakhpur hospital in August 2017, Khan says he was made scapegoat for govt failure.

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New Delhi: Two years after he was suspended from the Gorakhpur BRD Medical College for medical negligence in the encephalitis deaths case, an inquiry against paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan has cleared him of all four charges.

In August 2017, as many as 63 children lost their lives in the Gorakhpur hospital over a period of four days due to a shortage of oxygen supply. Khan was accused by the Yogi Adityanath government of medical negligence and corruption, being in-charge of the encephalitis ward, and having a private practice.

He was subsequently charged with attempt to murder and criminal breach of trust by a public servant. He spent several months in jail and was released on bail in April 2018.

However, the departmental inquiry commissioned by the Adityanath government has absolved Khan of all the four charges.

“There is no evidence which establishes medical negligence or corruption by the applicant,” said the report.

It noted that the doctor made all the efforts to save lives on 10 August 2017, when several children died due to an oxygen supply shortage.

ThePrint has a copy of the report, which was handed over to Khan Thursday.

“Cognizant of the seriousness of the situation, despite being on leave (that day), he made all possible efforts to manage the unfortunate situation,” said the report.

The inquiry was led by Himanshu Kumar, Principal Secretary, Stamps & Registration. The findings were submitted to the medical education department of the Uttar Pradesh government on 18 April, 2019.

No evidence

In its report, the departmental inquiry said Khan was not responsible for payment or maintenance of Oxygen supply, and he wasn’t the head of the encephalitis ward either. He was the junior-most doctor.

However, Khan was constantly in touch with doctors to try and arrange wards and oxygen cylinders for the children, said the report.

“Due to his honest efforts, 500 oxygen cylinders were arranged between 11-08-2017 and 12-08-2017,” it said.

The report also quoted from the 25 April 2018 bail order for Khan by the Allahabad High Court, which stated, “There is no material on record which may establish medical negligence against the applicant individually… He was not stated to be part of the tendering process…which was charged with the supply of medical oxygen.”

It also noted that in an RTI reply to Khan, the Uttar Pradesh government had acknowledged that since 11 May 2016, assistant professor Bhupendra Sharma was in-charge of the encephalitis ward at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.

One of the other charges levelled against Khan was that he also had a private practice. But the report noted that Khan was involved in private practice until August 2016, not after that.

‘I was made scapegoat to hide government failure’

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr Kafeel Khan said, “The report proves that I was made a scapegoat to hide the failure of the government. I was imprisoned for nine months and continue to remain suspended from the hospital.”

The doctor has demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident, and compensation for the victims.

“The real culprits are those who received letters of payment dues from the oxygen supplier companies, but did not act on it. A CBI inquiry should be initiated,” he said.

“The government should apologise and give compensation to the families of the victims,” he added.

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  1. This is not an apples vs oranges comparison. See how differently the state administration has dealt with this fine, upright doctor and Sengar / Chinmayanand.

  2. What a travesty. A man with the heart of a farishta, true to his Hippocratic oath, unlike others who take the oath of office and secrecy. The tragedy in Gorakhpur was the first concrete indication that the wrong man had been chosen for India’s second most consequential job.

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