Paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan has written to the United Nations’ experts, alleging that he was tortured in Mathura jail during his incarceration after he was accused of delivering instigating speech.
“I was tortured mentally as well as physically, denied food and water for many days, and treated inhumanely during months of incarceration in a congested, overcrowded Mathura prison,” he wrote in a letter dated September 17. The doctor referred to the experts’ June 26 letter, in which they had urged the Indian authorities to release him.
On September 1, the Allahabad High Court revoked the charges under the National Security Act against Khan, and asked the state government to release him immediately. The doctor was in custody since January 29 for making allegedly inflammatory remarks during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act at the Aligarh Muslim University in December.
Despite being granted bail on February 10, Khan was not released from Mathura jail. Instead, the NSA was invoked against him three days later and his detention was extended. In August, Khan’s detention was again extended by three months till November 13. However, following the High Court order, he was freed from jail on September 2.
In his letter, the doctor noted the Allahabad High Court’s observations in the case against him. The court had called the extension of his detention “illegal”, and asked the Uttar Pradesh government to release him. The High Court also found prima facie that Khan’s speech “does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence”.
Meanwhile, Khan met Congress’ UP unit chief Priyanka Gandhi on Monday. He told The Indian Express that the two spoke about the alleged misuse of the NSA and and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA. “I told her I am lucky to have been released,” he said after meeting Gandhi for an hour. “There are many others, including 70 to 80-year-olds, along with those who were peacefully protesting against CAA, NRC [National Register of Citizens] or NPR [National Population Register] and are currently in jail.”
A day after the meeting, the doctor tweeted an image from their meeting and thanked her and her party for supporting him and his family.
Khan was a paediatrician at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in Gorakhpur, when 63 children died in 2017 due to lack of oxygen. He was suspended from his post and jailed for nine months after a criminal case of medical negligence, corruption and dereliction of duty was filed against him. But an Uttar Pradesh government inquiry last year cleared him of all charges and instead lauded his actions to save lives during the crisis.