New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government has announced that a fresh enquiry would be ordered into the charges against Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College paediatrician Kafeel Khan, who was given a ‘clean chit’ by a previous probe committee.
The doctor was accused of corruption and medical negligence after the deaths of more than 60 children in August 2017 because of a lack of oxygen supply. However, a probe committee headed by an IAS officer found that the doctor was not culpable for the deaths. Reports say the oxygen supplier cut off the supply due to pending payments, a charge that the state government denies.
However, Rajneesh Dubey, Uttar Pradesh’s principal secretary of medical education told the media that “some facts were not taken into account” by the earlier probe committee and the government is looking into them. It would not be correct to “presume” that the doctor has received a clean chit, he said.
The principal secretary said that Khan had told the inquiry committee that he was not the in-charge of the children’s ward at the time of the incident. “Certain documents have been found which indicate that he had worked as its nodal officer during that period,” Dubey said.
These new facts would be “looked into” and a final report would be submitted later. Until then, the charges against Khan would not be ruled out, he said. Dubey accused Khan of leaking the inquiry committee’s report and “spreading misinformation” through social and mainstream media.
Of the four charges filed against Khan, the investigation had found him guilty of private practice and operating a private nursing home while still in the position of senior resident and regular spokesperson in government service, Dubey said.
According to the Times of India, Rajneesh Dubey said that the fresh inquiry will investigate a total of seven charges. The principal secretary himself will be the inquiry officer to probe these charges.
The new charges that will be probed against him are an incident from 2018, where Khan tried to treat children at the district hospital in Bharaich and “spreading misleading information in media”. These actions construe a charge of serious misconduct in the new inquiry.
“During the suspension period, Kafeel attempted to treat patients by forcibly entering the pediatric department of district hospital Bahraich with three-four outsiders on September 22, 2018, causing panic in the hospital,” Dubey was quoted as saying by TOI.
Last week, Kafeel Khan had claimed that he was given a clean chit and had been absolved of any negligence in the case. The government had maintained that the children died due to different illnesses, including Japanese encephalitis and there was no shortage of oxygen.
However, an investigation by The Wire in 2018 showed that the state government had ignored several SOS letters sent by the hospital’s authorities requesting them to release payments for oxygen supply. The company eventually stopped the supply after dues ran into lakhs of rupees.
Khan was accused of negligence and corruption, suspended and arrested following the outrage over the deaths at Baba Raghav Das Medical College. He was imprisoned for nine months and is still under suspension. Khan has demanded to be reinstated with ‘due honour’.