BRD Hospital Death and Enigma that is Dr. Kafeel Khan

Recently, as many as sixty children died in BRD hospital of Gorakhpur.As the news of tragic death of sixty children in BRD hospital of Gorakhpur appeared on national TV and from there sank into national consciousness, heroics of another gentleman Dr. Kafeel Khan emerged. Dr. Kafeel Khan was head of pediatrics department of BRD hospital. According to reports, Dr. Khan had made superhuman effort to save children. He went out of his way to purchase oxygen cylinder by spending his own money. He borrowed truck and volunteers from Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) to procure oxygen cylinders. His team of doctors and interns worked on patients using ambubag.

However, as situation evolved Dr. Kafeel Khan was suspended along with principal of BRD medical college Prof. Rajeev Sharma. It was alleged that Dr. Kafeel Khan apart from having a chequered past, was running his own clinic and he was stealing oxygen from BRD hospital for his private business. All his effort to procure oxygen cylinder was aimed at replacing cylinders he had taken from the hospital.

As Dr. Khan’s suspension came to light, many people argued that because he was a muslim, he was an easy target for suspension by right wing BJP lead government. Without absolving government in delaying release of payment to hospital despite repeated reminders, without denying that there may be an element of bias in suspension of Dr. Kafeel Khan, can we look at the issues at hand from a different angle?

  • If one gets out of Hindu-Muslim narrative, it may be possible to look at suspension of Dr Khan differently. May be Dr. Khan was suspended because he was the head of pediatrics department and not because he was a muslim. Principal of the college, Prof. Rajeev Mishra, a Hindu, was also suspended /resigned. Both head of department and principal of college are much closer to ground zero. So they must accept their responsibility.  If chief minister who is sitting in Lucknow can be asked to resign, those who are running the hospital and paediatric ward can also be held accountable.
  • Kafeel Khan’s past is immaterial and has no relevance to BRD death. Like many of his peers in BRD, and many other government run hospitals, Dr. Khan ran a rival clinic / hospital. This is illegal but a widespread practice. What is important is did he steal from hospital for his private business? Investigation by a TV channel has shown that many private clinics running from staff quarters use supplies meant for poor patients of BRD hospital.
  • BRD hospital does not supply oxygen from cylinder. It supplies liquid oxygen kept under pressure in a reservoir using pipeline. Why Dr Kafeel was in a hurry to collect cylinder when there were enough cylinder in the hospital, according to hospital staff.
  • It is also a matter of curiosity how did DIG of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) give out his men and his truck at the request of a civilian. No matter how urgent the situation may be, paramilitary forces do not act without explicit instruction from the powers that control them.
  • According to report, Dr. Khan had used Ambubag to pump air into patients. Now ambubag does not supply oxygen but ambient air. If ambient air was good enough in seriously ill patients, why would hospital invest in oxygen? May be Dr. Kafeel was using best available option under his control in a desperate situation. According to report he had brokendown at the loss of life. Alternatively, did Dr. Kafeel tried to cover his track by showing that he had done everything he could to save patients.  Did he also use friendly journalist/s to sing his praise? If all these innuendos are proven to be correct, the act would be construed as diabolical.
  • Did Dr Kafeel or Prof. Sharma apprise CM of the dire strait of oxygen supply, earlier or during the time chief minister visited on 9th Aug?  Could principal and head pediatrics department have convinced the chief minister and health minister to release money earlier? A chief minister, all said and done, can only act on what he is informed of. I doubt chief minister has time or understanding of complexity of running a big hospital, even professional CEOs do not.
  • It is important to note that money had actually reached the hospital on 7th of Aug. It was released on 11″th of Aug? An electronic transfer hardly takes 30 min depending on network.
  • According to report the bill was pending since Nov 2016. Who was in power in Lucknow then? In this whole episode only person that is intact a soft target is supplier of oxygen. A business man whose bill of 50 lac rupees remain unpaid for more that 8 months is expected to supply oxygen for free. Otherwise he may risk having a criminal case is filed against him.

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