Two years after over 60 children died in less than a week at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, an Uttar Pradesh government inquiry has absolved suspended paediatrician Kafeel Khan of any negligence.
“I have got a clean chit now. The question arises who killed the 70 children,” Khan, who was also arrested after the deaths, said on Friday.
About 30 children died during the night of August 10, 2017 and 34 more over the next few days, officials had said then.
Many of the infants died allegedly because of disruption in oxygen supply on the night of August 10 due to pending payments to the supplier, a charge refuted by the state government.
The government had maintained that the children died due to different illnesses, including Japanese encephalitis and there was no shortage of oxygen.
Khan was accused of negligence and corruption, suspended and arrested following the outrage over the deaths at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College. His suspension is yet to be revoked.
An advisor to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, however, said the inquiry had not disproved the charge that the doctor also ran a private practice.
"It is not right to say that Dr Kafeel has got a clean chit in the departmental inquiry. He has made a wrongful conclusion of the report," Mrityunjay Kumar said in a statement.
The doctor on Friday hoped that the report would wipe off the “murderer” and "infamous" tags attached to him after the tragedy.
“But I believe justice will really be done only when the real culprits of the BRD oxygen tragedy are put behind the bars,” he said.
Principal Secretary (Stamp and Registration) Himanshu Kumar, who investigated Khan's case, absolved the doctor of any medical negligence.
Khan, who was given the letter clearing him of this charge on Thursday, said the inquiry report is dated April 18. He has questioned the “delay”.
"BRD Medical College principal Ganesh Kumar gave me the UP government letter. It clearly says that I am free from charges of medical negligence, corruption and not performing my duty on that fateful day,” he told PTI.
Ganesh Kumar said the letter was handed over to Khan in person on Thursday, following the government procedure.
The doctor spent about eight months in prison before securing bail.
"My bail order of Allahabad Court of April 25, 2018 confirmed that I was not part of the tendering process for oxygen supply, and also there is no material on record which proves my medical negligence," he said.
The investigation report said Khan was not the nodal medical officer in charge of the encephalitis wards at the BRD Hospital when the deaths took place. The documents provided by his department to contest this were not adequate and consistent, it said.
The report said Khan was not involved in the process of allotting tenders for oxygen supply and absolved him of corruption, as well as of medical negligence on the day of the tragedy.
The report said Khan informed his seniors about the oxygen supply shortage and arranged seven cylinders with his own money on August 10-11 night, 2017.
Khan questioned why his suspension has not been revoked so far.