Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
(This story was originally published on 4 September 2020. This is being reposted after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday, 26 August, quashed all pending criminal proceedings in connection with an alleged anti-CAA/NRC speech delivered by him in 2019.)
Dr Kafeel Khan was released from Mathura jail after seven months, close to midnight, on 1 September, after the Allahabad High Court revoked the National Security Act (NSA) charges against him and directed his immediate release.
Addressing media outside the Mathura jail after walking free, Khan said:
“The court order says that Uttar Pradesh government framed a false, baseless and fictitious case against me and kept me in this jail. I am thankful to Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force officials that they didn’t kill me in an encounter on the way from Mumbai to Mathura.”
Dr Khan was arrested on the night of 30 January by Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force officials, with assistance from Mumbai Police at the airport, when he arrived in Mumbai to participate in anti-CAA protests.
He was arrested for alleged 'provocative' speeches made at Aligarh Muslim University on 12 December 2019.
Quoting Dr Khan’s speech at AMU, on the basis of which he was arrested, the court said:
“A complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also no where threatens peace and tranquility of the city of Aligarh. The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence. It appears that the District Magistrate had selective reading and selective mention for few phrases from the speech, ignoring its true intent.”
But this is not the first time that the Uttar Pradesh police 'went after' Dr Khan, and not the first time that charges were 'dropped' against him. Here's how he was allegedly 'framed' on two prior occasions:
GORAKHPUR INFANT DEATHS
Dr Khan first hit the headlines after the infant deaths tragedy at Gorakhpur's BRD hospital in 2017.
- 10 August 2017: 63 infants died after oxygen supply at BRD medical college was cut over non-payment of dues. Dr Khan reportedly arranged cylinders from other hospitals and local vendors to bring the situation under control. Media hailed him as a hero immediately. But, the UP government denied charges of deaths due to oxygen shortage.
- 13 August 2017: He was removed as the nodal officer in charge of the encephalitis ward on charges of dereliction of duty. An FIR was filed against Dr Khan under:
- Section 409 of IPC: Criminal breach of trust
- Section 308 of IPC: Culpable homicide not amounting to murder
- Section 120B of IPC: Criminal conspiracy
- Section 420 of IPC: Cheating
- Section 15 of Indian Medical Council Act: Medical negligence
- Prevention of Corruption Act
- 02 September 2017: Khan was arrested. He was among the nine accused in the case.
- April 2018: Indian Medical Association released a statement in defence of Dr Khan, and alleged that he was framed, blamed the state government officials and demanded a high-level probe into the case.
- 19 April 2018: Responding to an RTI query, BRD administration admitted that there was a shortage of oxygen cylinders on the fateful night, at least six cylinders were bought from other hospitals and that then nodal officer Khan had arranged four cylinders.
- 25 April 2018: Khan was released on bail, after spending nine months in jail, due to lack of evidence.
- 27 September 2019: Dr Khan was acquitted of all charges.
NATIONWIDE ANTI-CAA PROTESTS
- 12 December 2019: Dr Khan addressed students at Aligarh Muslim University amid nationwide protests against Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). An FIR was registered against Khan under Section 153-A of IPC (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion). According to the FIR, Khan had said in his speech that “‘Mota bhai’ teaches us to become Hindu or Muslim but not human beings.”
- 13 December 2019: Dr Khan was arrested again by a Special Task Force of UP police for alleged inflammatory speeches made at AMU.
- 10 February 2020: Dr Khan was granted bail by an Aligarh court but he wasn't released on time.
- 13 February 2020: Three days later, he was charged with offences under the draconian National Security Act, before his actual release from jail. The National Security Act allows preventive detention without trial for three-month periods.
- 12 May 2020: Following the lapse of the three-month period, his detention was extended for another three months.
- 1 September 2020: Allahabad High Court revoked NSA charges against him and directed his immediate release.