Gorakhpur’s Dr Kafeel Khan: What We Know About Him & What We Don’t
Khan’s fall from grace was rather steep: Initially hailed a ‘hero’, only to be dragged through the mud a day later.
In a strange turn of events, Dr Kafeel Khan, the Gorakhpur doctor who was hailed for saving the lives of some children, as the BRD Medical College and Hospital battled an oxygen supply shortage, was removed as the nodal officer of the Department of Pediatrics on 13 August.
Dr Khan was in charge of the encephalitis ward at the hospital where 65 children have died in the last six days.
Dr Khan will continue serving as a doctor at the hospital and Dr Bhupendra Sharma will replace him as the nodal officer, the Times of India reported. The move has raised a number of questions. Here’s what we know so far:
Was He Fired for Running a Private Practice?
According to a Hindustan Times report, Khan was sacked for "dereliction of duty” and “carrying out private practice” while employed with the BRD hospital – called the Medispring Hospital.
The Quint asked Dr Khan’s cousin, Amar Islam, to verify these claims.
However, Islam says the clinic – a 50-bed children’s hospital called Medispring Hospital and Research Centre in Gorakhpur, which is owned by Dr Khan’s wife – belongs to him.
Since Kafeel got a permanent job at BDR hospital he has not come to the clinic.Amar Islam, Dr Kafeel Ahmad Khan’s cousin
What About the Rape Allegations?
There were allegations of rape against Dr Kafeel in 2015. A case was registered, but after investigation, the police dismissed the allegation as false in its final report. The doctor’s family has circulated a letter that has been purportedly signed by Charu Nigam, SP Gorakhpur.
The Quint could not independently verify the authenticity of the letter.
Wait, So Why Was Dr Khan Sacked?
Confirming his sacking, Dr Khan told the Times of India:
It’s a smear campaign against me. I was only trying to help the children.
Hindustan Times quoted sources at the medical college as accusing him of accused of “fabricating stories in the media to show himself as a saviour of children”.
KK Gupta, Director General, Medical Education (Gorakhpur), questioned Khan's action of arranging for three cylinders on his own when there were already 52 cylinders at the hospital on 10 August. Furthermore, he called all the adulation around him a result of all the media coverage, saying the hospital did not refer to him as a hero.
The Hindustan Times report also cites anonymous sources from the hospital claiming that Khan and a former principal of the medical college, Dr RK Mishra, were in-charge of ensuring a continuous supply of oxygen cylinders.
According to the report, Mishra and Khan were accused of being primarily responsible for the acute shortage of oxygen cylinders, causing the deaths of many children.
Moreover, the report asserts that according to their sources from the hospital, Khan was also a part of the hospital’s purchase committee and was aware of the fact that they owed a huge debt to Pushpa Sales, the Lucknow-based oxygen supplier to the company.
What we don’t know is whether or not Khan was actually responsible for payments to be made for oxygen cylinders.
Why Was Dr Khan Hailed as a ‘Hero’?
What we know: On the night of 10 August, when the oxygen supply at the BRD Medical College and Hospital was critically low, it was Khan who decided to take control of the situation by driving to private homes to borrow oxygen cylinders, reported DNA. Khan paid Rs 10,000 to an oxygen supplier out of his own pocket, reported CNN-News18.
As the news of Khan’s ‘heroism’ broke, social media went into overdrive, with praises for the doctor.
What we don’t know is whether Dr Khan was actually responsible for saving the lives of many children by arranging for more oxygen supply, as there hasn’t been any official validation from the hospital.
Kafeel Khan: Fraud or Scapegoat?
What we know: Sunday witnessed Twitterati ‘digging’ into Khan’s past.
Some Twitter users cited some old Hindi articles, alleging that Khan had been accused of rape in the past.
Another Twitter user cited an old article, which had mentioned one “Dr Kafeel Ahmed Khan, a Lucknow-based doctor,” as having impersonated someone in the National Board Exam for medical registration in 2009. Moreover, the same Twitter user claimed, citing a legal document, that the Manipal University had suspended Dr Kafeel Khan for a criminal case against him.
However, when questioned about past charges of harassment and impersonation against him that have now suddenly surfaced, Khan was quoted as saying:
I have no idea why past controversies are being raked up now.
The Twitter user who goes by the handle @WrongDoc also claims:
The hospital’s website is however, not available at the moment.
However, a snapshot of the page linked by the Twitter user can still be accessed by clicking on the link. A quick glance reveals that indeed there is no mention of Dr Kafeel Khan in the list of faculty at the Gorakhpur hospital.
Further, Twitter users who ‘identified’ Khan’s Twitter handle as @dr_manipal, pointed out tweets by the user that were deemed as obscene.
Also, a trending topic on Twitter is #StandWithDrKafeel, which is being used by many Twitter users to absolve Kafeel of blame, while calling him a scapegoat.
What we don’t know is whether the Twitter account using Khan’s name is actually his. Moreover, his identity remains shrouded in mystery as it is unclear whether he indeed is Dr Kafeel Ahmad Khan of Manipal University.
The Quint has not been able to independently verify whether @dr_manipal is Khan’s Twitter handle. Moreover, it should be noted that the Twitter account under that name is no longer available. Also, even if the Twitter account going by his name is not a fake one trying to impersonate Dr Khan, it is possible that it is another Dr Kafeel Khan altogether.
(With inputs from TOI, Hindustan Times, India Today, DNA, ANI. This story has been updated with Amar Islam’s comment)
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