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Dr Kafeel Khan, Jailed For Anti-CAA Speech, Writes To Modi, Offers Help In Fighting Coronavirus

Dr Kafeel Khan, the suspended paediatrician from Gorakhpur who was arrested for making an anti-CAA speech, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering his help in fighting the novel coronavirus that has infected 649 people in the country and killed 13 so far.

Khan, who is currently lodged in Mathura jail after being booked under the National Security Act, in a two paged-letter dated 19-3-2020, provided a road map on how to deal with the deadly Corona Stage-III.

He said that he could be useful in India’s fight against the pandemic and urged Modi to release him from detention. “Sir, with my 20 years of experience in medical field and more so by those 103 free medical camps I had conducted since out of jail after BRD [Baba Raghav Das] oxygen tragedy, I feel I could be of some help in curtailing this disease,” Dr Khan wrote in the letter dated March 19. “I humbly request you to defer/order to release to serve from my illegal, arbitrary, malafide, unjustified detention till my beloved country comes out winning against this deadly virus.”

In his letter, Khan also flagged the fragility of India’s healthcare and warned of a catastrophe. “I fear with our fragile health system which is in shambles at primary level, scarce intensive care units, huge shortage of doctors/paramedics, large population, poverty, lack of awareness, etc. could lead to an impending catastrophe,” he said.

Dr Khan said that India must increase testing to prevent the community spread of coronavirus. “I propose that we should increase rapid testing strength (1 in each district level), open up of new intensive care units and isolation wards,” he said. “I suggest extensive training of doctors/paramedics/support group including AYUSH and private sectors.”

Dr Khan was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force last month from Mumbai for delivering an anti Citizenship (Amendment) Act speech at the Aligarh Muslim University during a protest on December 12, 2019. He was on February 14 charged under the National Security Act (NSA).

Dr Khan hit the headlines in August 2017, when he was suspended following the death of about 60 children due to disruption in oxygen supply in the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.

Initially hailed as a hero, for trying to source oxygen cylinders and bring them to the hospital to save the children, he was later accused of corruption, medical negligence and dereliction of duty, after the entire case took a political turn, due to massive public outrage against the administration.

The Adityanath-led government suspended Dr Khan, claiming that he neither took any action nor warned his superiors about the issue despite being aware of the situation. Later, an FIR was registered against him and he was sent to jail for 9 months. Even after securing bail from the court, Dr Khan remained suspended from duty for 2 years.

In September 2019, after two years of hounding him for the crimes he never committed, the state government probe absolved Dr Khan of all charges as well as commended him for doing everything in his power to help save lives.

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