Dr Kafeel Khan, a former paediatrician at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur where 63 children had died in 2017, on Saturday said the state government should revoke his suspension at once.
A state government investigation had on Friday absolved Dr Khan of all charges against him as well as commended him for doing everything in his power to help save lives. The report said that “no evidence” of medical negligence and corruption has been found against Khan. The report established that Khan was neither in charge of the ward where the deaths had occurred nor did he have anything to do with the “storage, tendering, payments, orders, supply or arrangements” of liquid oxygen at all.
The deaths had taken place in August 2017 after an alleged shortage of oxygen in the government-run hospital. Khan had been suspended soon after. He was jailed for nine months after a criminal case of medical negligence, corruption and dereliction of duty was filed against him.
At a press conference on Saturday, Dr Khan said that the inquiry officer had accepted his reply that there was no question of his involvement in any administrative or supervisory process in the purchase or upkeep of oxygen, when the tragedy took place. Dr Khan said that despite being on leave on August 8, 2017, the day of the tragedy, he rushed to hospital in an effort to save lives of innocent children, and managed to arrange 500 cylinders.
Dr Khan said the inquiry also revealed that he made 26 calls that night, and had made every effort to stem the deaths.
“To hide government failure, I was made into a scapegoat and imprisoned for nine months, despite the fact that i had left no stone unturned in saving the lives of kids on that day, a duty any doctor would have committed himself to under those circumstances,” Dr Khan said. “Honorable Allahabad High Court, while granting bail to myself, has categorically stated that there is no evidence of medical negligence against me and I was no where involved in the process of procurement of liquid oxygen or its tendering process.”
Dr Khan said that the Uttar Pradesh government had in a recent Right to Information response accepted that there was a shortage of oxygen at the BRD Medical College and Hospital for 54 hours. He said the state also accepted that Dr Khan arranged jumbo oxygen cylinders to save dying kids. Dr Khan said the state government had also accepted shortage of oxygen supply in its affidavit in the Allahabad High Court.
Dr Khan said that though he was relieved that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing, he and his family struggled to survive for two years when he was victimised by the government. “Government should revoke my suspension at the earliest and give my job back with all due respect,” Dr Khan said.
“Uttar Pradesh government should publicly apologise to the grieving parents who lost their kids and compensate them,” he said. He also demanded that the 2017 incident be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation to check for the role of any state officials.
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