On August 12, a report in English newspaper DNA introduced us to a "hero" who, in the midst of the horrific Gorakhpur tragedy, did something to 'restore our faith in humanity'.
Dr. Kafeel Khan, a hero who gives hope for humanity in these extremely trying times: https://t.co/epyp0Sv5Ew— anupma (@anupmabakshi) August 14, 2017
As per the report, Dr Kafeel Khan, head of the encephalitis ward and a paediatrician at Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College, jumped to action when he saw that the supply of oxygen would run out in the next two hours on the intervening night of August 10-11. He drove two hospital employees in his car to his friend’s private nursing home and borrowed three oxygen cylinders.
The report further said that the three cylinders could keep up with the demand only for 30 minutes after which Khan headed out for help again, this time coming back with 12 cylinders. Not only this, Khan gave his debit card to an employee to withdraw Rs 10,000 so he could arrange for more cylinders. The report said that "had it not been for Khan’s work, the number of deaths in the past 48 hours would be more than 36".
Curiously, the report doesn't cite a single source for narrating the events of the night, except for one "eye-witness" Gaurav Tripathi mentioned only in the last paragraph. The report also has no quote by Khan, not even a line suggesting an attempt to get his response.
This bylined report was picked up by almost all media houses, including ScoopWhoop. There were also an accompanying photograph that did the rounds, showing a neatly dressed Khan holding a child in his hands for cameras outside the BRD hospital on Saturday.
The other side of the story...
Dainik Bhaskar now informs us that Khan sourced the first three cylinders from his own hospital in Gorakhpur named 'Medispring Hospital and Research Centre' where he is involved in illegal practice. When the Bhaskar reporter reached Medispring on the morning of August 13 (Sunday), the staff told him that Khan had taken away three cylinders a night before.
Kafeel Khan sacked by Yogi govt on Sunday
Kafeel Khan was sacked from his post of nodal officer and in-charge of the encephalitis ward of the BRD Medical College, by the Yogi government. This was after he was found accused of "dereliction of duty" and carrying out private practice.
While a section of the media jumped to slam the UP government for it, reports later challenged the portrayal of Khan as a hero. Damning reports and facts emerged that have now put Khan under the scanner. However, a new report by News18 claims some of the allegations may be false.
Here is everything you need to know about the charges on Dr Khan:
Charge 1: Khan practices illegally at his private hospital
Khan reportedly runs the 50-bed hospital under the ownership of his wife Dr Shabista Khan, a dentist. A large hoarding outside the building carries Khan's name which was removed after controversy on Sunday. While Khan's cousin has claimed in the media that the doctor visits this hospital rarely, facts on ground suggest otherwise. Visitors to the hospital on Sunday morning Dainik Bhaskar that Khan is their regular doctor.
India Today reports that ads for his clinic are still pasted on the walls of BRD Hospital saying, "Doctor is available from 9am-9pm."
Charge 2: Khan delayed payments to oxygen vendor
The HT report says that Khan, along with former principal of BRD college Dr RK Mishra, was responsible for the supply of oxygen at BRD. The duo didn't take any action despite the vendor for liquefied oxygen, Pushpa Sales, threatening to stop the supply over payment of dues to the tune of Rs 60 lakh. Khan was also a member of the purchase committee of the medical college, that concerns the stock and storage of medical equipment.
However, a fresh report by News18 now says claims that Khan was not in the purchase committee. A clarification from the hospital is awaited.
Charge 3: Khan stole cylinders from BRD for his own hospital
As per an India Today report, Khan, in connivance with Mishra, is accused of stealthily transporting oxygen cylinders from BRD to his own clinic, which is perhaps why he arranged for the first three cylinders from his clinic himself.
Questions have also been raised on why he ran around for cylinders at all. Director general, medical education, K K Gupta told The Times of India that the hospital had 52 cylinders on the night of August 10. "Then what was the need to manage three cylinders from outside. The question arises why did he do it?" Dr Gupta said.
However, the News18 report punches holes in these allegations, insisting that Khan indeed made heroic efforts to save lives. The report quotes Sashastra Seema Bal's Public Relations Officer OP Sahu saying, “It was an unprecedented crisis situation at the BRD Medical College on 10th of August. Dr Khan came to DIG SSB and requested for a truck, so that oxygen cylinders could be collected from various locations and be taken to the medical college.”
“The DIG also provided 11 jawans of the medical wing to assist the staff at BRD Medical College. For hours, our truck collected oxygen cylinders from various locations, including a godown in Khalilabad and ferried them to the medical college where it was a situation of acute crisis."
Charge 4: Khan fabricated stories in the media
As per the HT report that cites unnamed sources, hospital authorities are accusing Khan of planting stories in the media to paint himself as a hero who saved lives with his "quick-thinking". When ScoopWhoop News contacted two journalists from Hindi media to ask them about the story, both said the story reached them too, but they did not file a copy as they could not verify it despite efforts. There is also buzz in the local media that Khan allegedly planted the story with the help of one of his cousins who runs a daily, but ScoopWhoop News couldn't independently verify it.
Charge 5: Khan has been accused of rape & fraud in the past
Some Twitter users have dug up old reports where Khan has been named as an accused in rape as well as impersonation.
A report where Khan impersonated someone in the National Board Exam for medical registration in 2009 is now doing the rounds, along with another that says Khan was suspended by Manipal University for a criminal case against him.
As per reports, Khan is also accused of raping a woman on March 15, 2015, after calling her to his clinic on the pretext of giving her a job.
However, News18 says it is in the possession of documents that prove that the rape charges against Khan were later found to be false by the police. The case was closed, the report says.
When contacted by The Times of India today over all these allegations, Khan called it all a smear campaign. "I was only trying to help the children. I did everything from getting in touch with oxygen firms to ensuring prompt help to patients," he said.
On rape charges, Khan told TOI, "I have no idea why past controversies are being raked up now".