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Archives for : April2018

Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy: Dr Kafeel’s Letter From Jail- ‘Eight Months in Jail Without Bail, Am I Really Guilty?’

Dr Kafeel Ahmad Khan, who was lauded as the “hero” for saving lives of many children during the BRD Medical College tragedy in Uttar Pradesh last year—that killed over 30 children due to oxygen shortage on the intervening night of August 10-11—has been languishing in Gorakhpur prison for the past eight months. He has been denied bail by the lower court and Allahabad High Court has not been hearing his matter because of one reason or the other.

Dr Kafeel was arrested and sent to jail on September 2 last year after an FIR was filed against him on August 23. He has been charged under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The young doctor has penned a 10-page letter to the media from the prison, describing why his arrest is unjust.

Was extending a helping hand my crime, he asks.


I cherished each moment, every scene is still alive like it’s happening right now in front of my eyes, even after 8 months of unbearable torture, humiliation behind the bars. Sometime, I ask myself, “Am I really guilty?” And the answer pops out from the core of my heart – a big NO.

The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that fateful 10 August 2017 night, I did everything a doctor, a father, a responsible citizen of India would/should do.

I tried to save each and every life which was in danger due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen. I did my level best to save those innocent kids who were dying because of lack of oxygen. I frantically called everyone, I begged, I talked, I ran, I drove, I ordered, I yelled, I screamed, I consoled, I counseled, I spent, I borrowed, I cried. I did all what is humanely possible.

I called my Head of the Department, my colleagues, principal BRD, acting principal BRD, DM (district magistrate) Gorakhpur, AD (additional director) Health Gorakhpur, CMS/SIC Gorakhpur, CMS/SIC BRD and informed them about the grave situation arising due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen and how kids’ lives are in danger due to lack of oxygen supply. (I have all the call records)

I begged gas suppliers – Modi Gas, Balaji, Imperial Gas, Mayur Gas Agency, all the hospitals around around BRD Medical College – after arranging their contact numbers for jumbo cylinders to save hundreds of lives of innocent kids.

I paid them in (against) cash and assured them (that I) will pay (the) rest on delivery. (We arranged 250 cylinders/day until liquid oxygen tank arrived. One jumbo cylinder cost Rs 216/-)

I ran from one cubical to another, from Ward 100 to Ward 12 to emergency ward, from point of oxygen supply to the point of delivery to make sure uninterrupted oxygen delivery.

I drove to get cylinders from nearby hospitals in my car. When I realised that was not sufficient, I drove to SSB (Seema Suraksha Bal) and met its DIG (deputy inspector general) and explained (to) him the unprecedented situation. Their response was very quick and supporting. They arranged a big truck and (a) group of soldiers to carry empty cylinders from BRD to gas agency, filled it, brought to BRD and ran again to refill.

They worked for continuous 48 hours. Their sprit boost ours. I salute (the) SSB and (am) very thankful for their help.


I spoke to my junior/senior doctors, I ordered my staff, “Don’t get panic(ed), don’t be disheartened, don’t get angry with agitated parents, don’t take break. We had to work as a team to treat efficiently to save every life.”

I consoled grieving parents who had lost their kids, I counseled those agitated parents who were getting angry after losing their kids. There was so much chaos. I explained them – liquid O2 (oxygen) is finished but we are trying to make it with jumbo cylinders.

I yelled/screamed to everyone to focus on saving lives. I cried, actually everyone in the team cried, to see the havoc created by the administrative failure to pay the dues to the oxygen suppliers – resulting in such a grave situation.

We did not stop trying until liquid oxygen tank arrived around 1:30 am on 13-08-2017.

But my life turned upside down when CM Yogiji Maharaj arrived next morning on 13-08-17. He asked – so you are Dr Kafeel? You arranged cylinders?

I was like – yes sir.

He got angry – so you think by arranging cylinders, you became hero, I will see it.

Yogiji was angry because – how this incident came into the media. I swear to my Allah, I did not inform any media person that night. They were already there that night itself.

Then police started coming to our home – hounding, threatening, torturing my family. People warned they would kill me in an encounter. My family, my mother, my wife, my kids were so scared that I do not have words.

I surrendered to save my family from the humiliation, misery – thinking when I have not done anything wrong, I should get justice.

But numbers of days, weeks and months passed – August, 2017 to April, 2018. Holi came, Dussehra came, Christmas gone, New Year came, Diwali came – every date – Tareekh Par Tareekh (date after dates) hoping will get bail. Then we realised that judiciary is also working under pressure. (Even they acknowledged the same)

Sleeping on floor with more than 150 prisoners in a cramped barrack with millions of mosquito at night and thousands of flies in the day. Trying to swallow food to live, bath half naked in the field and sit in a toilet with broken door. Waiting for Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday to meet my family.

Life is hell, miserable not only for me but for my whole family. They had to run from one pillar to another – from police station to court, from Gorakhpur to Allahabad – in hope of justice. But all in vain.

My daughter whose first bithday I could not celebrate is now 1 year 7 months old. As a pediatrician, it is very painful, disheartening not to see his child to grow. As a pediatrician, I used to taught parents importance of milestones and myself do not know when my daughter started walking, speaking and running.

So now again that question haunts me – am I really guilty? No, no – NO.

I was on leave on 10th August 2017. (It was sanctioned by my HoD). Still, I rushed to do my duties – is that wrong?

They made me head of the department, vice chancellor of BRD, prabhari (in-charge) of 100-bed acute encephalitis syndrome (AEH) ward. I am a junior most doctor and joined only on 08-08-2016 as a permanent employee. I was working as nodal officer with NRHM and lecturer pediatrics. My whole work is to teach students, treat kids. I was nowhere involved with purchase/tender/order/maintenance/supply/payment of liquid oxygen/jumbo cylinders.

If Pushpa Sales (the official supplier) stopped liquid oxygen supply, how am I responsible for that? Even non medico could tell doctors’ work is to treat, not to buy oxygen.

The guilty are DM Gorakhpur, DGME (director general of medical education), principal secretary health education for not taking any action against 14 reminders sent by Pushpa Sales for its Rs 68 lakh dues.

It was a total administrative failure at higher level, they did not realise the gravity and just to save themselves, they made us scapegoat and put us behind the bars so that truth will remain inside Gorakhpur jail.

When Manish Bhandari (director of Pushpa Sales) got bail, we same same light that may be now we would also get justice and come out to live with my family and to serve again.

But No – we are still waiting.

Supreme Court says – bail is the right, prison is exception. This is a classical example of miscarriage of justice.

I hope time would come and I would be free with my family and my daughter. Truth will prevail. Justice would be served.

A helpless, broken heart father, husband, brother, son and friend

Dr Kafeel Khan

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Haryana-   With ripped denims, girls rip into patriarchy



Annu Malik rides a bike with her classmate Manju on the streets of Ishapur Kheri

A Haryana panchayat has banned jeans and mobiles for women, but teens are having none of it

Annu Malik owns 11 pairs of jeans but her favourite is the one ripped at the knees. She would wear it all the time if she could. In her spare time, she plays music on her phone and watches YouTube videos. Sounds like an ordinary 17-year-old? Except when Annu wears her jeans or plays Temple Run on her phone, it’s an act of defiance against patriarchal control.

Last December, after three girls eloped from the village of Ishapur Kheri in Haryana’s Sonipat district, 120km from Delhi, the sarpanch called for a ban on jeans and mobile phones for girls. In his words, the village earned a bad name and families came to him pleading “bachchon ko tight karna padega” (children have to be disciplined).

Four months down, the ban evokes mixed reactions. While some parents have enforced the rules, others say the decision is plain silly. Still others believe youngsters will do what they like anyway.

Annu’s parents, for instance, have not taken the panchayat ban seriously. “My mother bought me the jeans, and my father taught me how to ride the bike. They ask, why we should allow anyone else to decide what we do,” she says with an impish smile.

Jyoti Malik, who studies in Class XI at a private school in Nooran Kheda, a km from the village, says, “If we have to wear salwar suits then the boys must wear kurta-pyjama. Why should they be allowed to wear jeans?” To her, the ban appears unjustified. “No one ever stops the boys. They lounge around all day, watch as much TV or YouTube as they like. But we are always being nagged: don’t sit like this, don’t talk too loudly, don’t this, don’t that….”

Since everyone is not allowed to wear them in the village, jeans are something of a prized possession. The girls need to take a bus to Gohana town 14km away to buy a pair, which means they need to be accompanied by a parent or older sibling.

“Why don’t they stop minors from getting married instead of announcing these bans,” asks Neeraj who is also in Class XI. Two of her classmates got married last year after Class X and did not return to school.

Neeraj is not allowed to wear jeans or step out of the house after she returns from school. “My mother says sit at home and watch TV but no going out. If I’m not allowed a phone either, what will I do,” she asks.

The Haryana village isn’t the first to ban phones. Last year, Madora in Uttar Pradesh announced a fine of Rs 2,100 on women who are found using a mobile. In 2016, a panchayat in Gujarat cracked down on single women.

With or without the ban, access to phones remains limited for girls. They usually share the phone with an older sibling or the family and have access to it for a couple of hours in the day. This is in line with a gender gap that can be seen across the country. Less than 46% of Indian women own and use a mobile phone, according to National Family Health Survey 2015-2016. In urban areas, 62% women use a handset compared to 37% in rural areas. In Haryana, nearly half the women have access to a phone.

Geeta, the mother of a boy and a girl, says mobile phones are “just trouble” and should be banned for both men and women. Other mothers nod in agreement, chiming in about obscene pictures, long WhatsApp calls, and distracting images and videos.

But panchayat member Anil Tikaram Malik rubbishes the ban. “Our children have to move forward. How can they if there are bans like these? We were not consulted when the decision was made,” he says.

Krishan Kumar agrees, explaining with a sense of wonder how his sevenyear-old can download and access a book he needs for homework without any help. “Why should I stop him? Or my daughter? We have to learn to move with the times.”

Yet Sarpanch Prem Malik remains firm in his resolve. “Mobile phones spoil girls. It is not just me saying that. The village came to me and said jeans and mobile phones were spoiling our children. So I announced the ban.” He says there has not been any action against those who have not adhered to it. There are stories about how the girls who eloped used mobiles to plot their escape.

Pramila Malik, panchayat member and Anil Tikaram’s sister, disagrees with her brother. “There are bad things on the net. Girls should not see them, and where is the need to wear jeans? Saada peheno, saada raho (wear simple clothes, live simply),”

she says.

But the young girls will have none of it. “We have nothing to hide. It’s the boys who have the phone all the time and keep it locked with a password. If they are not doing anything wrong, why do they have a password?” Manju, 17, says.


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After Ex-Bureaucrats, 600 Academics Send Sharp Letter To PM Modi On Rapes

More than 600 academics including 200 teachers and scholars at universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have written to PM Modi on Kathua and Unnao rapes.

After Ex-Bureaucrats, 600 Academics Send Sharp Letter To PM Modi On Rapes

Over 600 academics have written an open letter to PM Narendra Modi on the Kathua and Unnao rapes.

NEW DELHI As the centre clambered to introduce harsher punishment for child rapists to cap public outrage over sexual crimes, a group of 637 academics in India and abroad have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him that his statements on the “monstrous crimes” had been “wholly inadequate, platitudinous” and gave “non-specific assurances of justice” for the victims.

“We send you this letter… so that we are not guilty of silence; and so that callousness and cowardice might finally draw the line at the broken body of a little girl and the rape of a young woman”, said the strongly-worded letter, released around the same time the government cleared changes to the penal code to introduce death penalty for child rapists.

The signatories include over 200 academics and scholars at universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

The open letter is the second that has been addressed to PM Modi this week.

Former bureaucrats and police officers had written to him, holding PM Modi responsible for a “terrifying state of affairs” and expressing concern at the “decline in the secular, democratic, and liberal values”.

In their letter, the academics spoke about expressed their “deep anger and anguish” at the efforts to protect the alleged perpetrators of the rapes in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and what they called, were “profoundly distasteful” attempts at  “rationalisation, deflection and diversion” by the ruling BJP’s spokespersons.

Much of the public anger triggered by these two crimes had been directed at leaders of the BJP who had been trying to protect the accused in both cases.

In Uttar Pradesh where the police hadn’t filed a rape case against a BJP lawmaker accused of rape last year, the Allahabad High Court finally had to intervene and ordered legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s arrest.

The horrific details of the eight-year-old girl’s torturous last days were described by the International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde to be “revolting”. The child, belonging to a nomadic community, was kidnapped in January and over the next week, drugged, starved, repeatedly gang raped and then murdered.

Listing out a string of incidents that had taken place since 2015 including deaths linked to cow vigilantism, the academics saw the two rapes as “part of a pattern of repeated targeted attacks” on religious minorities, Dalits, tribals and women.

The letter noted that all these attacks had taken place in BJP-ruled states.
“This is not to associate violence exclusively with your party and with State governments presided over by your party. But there is an undeniable association with the ruling dispensation,” they said.

They also noted that there had been “little evidence” to suggest that the government was assisting vulnerable sections of society or discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law through preventive measures.

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Death Penalty Is Not The Answer To Sexual Violence: Implement Justice Verma Committee Report

Demands for death penalty for rapists is not the answer to sexual violence

 NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister of India called for an immediate cabinet meeting on April 21, to discuss two major issues of which one was death penalty of an individual convicted of raping a minor. The Centre has begun the process of amending the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenders (POCSO) Act, as public pressure escalates demanding justice for the gruesome cases of sexual violence in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao. The Indian Government retracted from its position in January 2018 where it had stated that ‘death penalty is not the answer for everything’ in response to a PIL filed at the time.

Demanding the most stringent action to be taken against the perpetrators of rape in the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson (DCW), Swati Maliwal began her hunger strike in Rajghat, last week. Today, marks the eighth day of her hunger strike, while several lawyers and activists have written to her asking to withdraw the indefinite strike demanding death penalty for those who rape minor girls.

The country has seen widespread protests, both in social media and in the streets, where thousands of protesters have come together, demanding strict action to be taken against perpetrators of sexual violence and ensuring safety for women in India. But, what we fail to identify is the lack of implementation of existing laws is a more pressing matter that has contributed to a rise in sexual assault cases in the country.

Remembering the case of rape convict, Dhananjoy Chatterjee and the country wide protest in support of his hanging, I recall how I was persuaded into believing that death penalty would result into curbing sexual violence against women and children in the country, thereafter. But has that been effective? According to the statistics provided by the National Crime Recording Bureau, 34,651 cases of reported cases of rape in India in 2015, shooting upto 40,000 cases in 2016, out of which 40% is that of reported cases of child abuse.

It was only after the gangrape and fatal assault of a medical student in 2012, that the Justice Verma Committee report was introduced. A careful read into the document brings into light the importance of Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution, that obliged the State to “adopt and strictly enforce preferential measures in relation to matters affecting women and children.” Further the committee recommends improvisation in school curriculums and introduction of gender sensitization schemes that can help in ‘psychologically reconstructing’ the psyche of the Indian male.

A study by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation states that the current backlog of the child sex abuse cases would take two decades for the courts to clear. What we need now is the effective working of the fast track courts that have been introduced post the 2012 rape incident. We need speedy trials to 133,000 pending rape cases reported in 2016 according to the National Crime Recording Bureau, in India. Death penalty cannot be the solution to curb violence against women and children, as there is no evidence that it helps in deterrence of rape.

The demand for conviction of sexual abusers should be the primary concern, as the conviction rate of perpetrators is low in the country. Perpetrators should be immediately booked after a report is registered and not given impunity by the ruling disposition in our country. Consider the Kathua incident, for instance. The perpetrators have been clearly supported by the ruling majority who have taken out marches in support of the convicts, even after they have been arrested.

There is need for all citizens to take up gender sensitization, as a mission to address the rapid growth of sexual violence in the country. We need to provide support to victims and survivors of violence.

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Modi will sink India if he does not rein in the Rapists


By Mike Ghouse
Whenever adharma takes over a nation, it needs a Krishna to restore faith and trust in the society, and that Krishna is the collective consciousness of Indians resting in women, businessmen, and young men.  They have to take their nation back from irresponsible chaotic governance and restore the good old days of the past where people were not afraid of each other and lived their lives instead of battling their lives.

The brutal rape of an 8-year old and the 4 –year-old is beyond anyone’s understanding. It was a brutal rape and murder. I hope as a nation we condemn what is bad and encourage what is good regardless of the politics or religion of the individual.

This tragedy has united most of the Indians except a few party members of Mr. Modi and Mr. Yogi who are defending the rapists. What is disgusting is even women members of the party like Kirron Kher are discounting it by saying that the rape culture is not new in India.  With friends like her, BJP does not need enemies.

My first response was apprehension.  How difficult must it have been for the child to endure the last few minutes of her life? Several images of 8-year-olds ran through my mind and could not help feel the anguish and anger.  How must mothers and fathers feel if their daughter is out on her way to school?

My second response was, punish the criminals swiftly and restore the trust in society.

I hoped the Prime Minister, and each Chief Minister with the State Police commissioners will jointly announce zero tolerance and severe punishment to criminals who hurt innocent people. If they don’t, we the people need to harass them to do it. At last, we the people have a right to decide whom we appoint to govern us, and how they are accountable to us.

A Bill must be introduced in the Parliament that would require “married men and women” to run the public office, preference must be given to those candidates who have daughters. It is not to discriminate against single people but to ensure the men and women who are responsible for public safety have the heart to empathize with the pain of mothers.

I urge Modi and Yogi to get married, and I am sure they are potent enough for God to bless them with a daughter each to understand at least the anguish of fathers, if not mothers. Sloganeering is good, but their actions determine if they are shooting their mouth off, or if they respect every man and woman of India.

I would appeal to the moderate members of the BJP to take bold steps and correct the mistakes and restore justice and the rule of law in India.

Ms. Prathiba Prahlad from New Delhi was one of the first few individuals in the nation to express her outrage well, and it reflects the sentiments of most mothers of India. Prathiba is a Dancer, Scholar, Culture Specialist, Festival Director at DIAF, Padma & Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee.

“I’m sick in the pit of my stomach & in deep, deep anguish! Just imagine what horrendous pain, fright & brutality little baby Asifa would have gone through! I’m ashamed of our politicians, I’m ashamed of our society, I’m ashamed of myself & my helplessness! I wish I didn’t live to see this day! India – hang your head in shame … so many of our children, adolescents & youngsters are brutalized every other day! And we call our land a holy land??? A holy land filled with ugly, twisted, violent, brutal, heartless, soulless psychos who commit beastly crimes in the name of religion, caste, honour or just because they view the innocent & the vulnerable an easy prey ??? This land can never be holy unless justice is done to these innocents – unless laws are amended, justice is fast-tracked & the guilty are castrated, tortured & publicly killed … they don’t deserve a trial for god’s sake – even at the risk of being termed undemocratic!”

Whenever adharma takes over a nation, it needs a Krishna to restore faith and trust in the society, and that Krishna is the collective consciousness of Indians resting in women, businessmen, and young men.  They have to take their nation back from irresponsible chaotic governance and restore the good old days of the past where people were not afraid of each other and lived their lives instead of battling their lives. We did not have the lynchings, harassments, and murdering of people who differed with us. We did not regulate what one should eat, and that freedom had offered relative peace.

Why should a mother support BJP?  What security she has for her daughter if these men don’t feel the pain of the mothers? Women tourists are scared to go to Modi’s India and Yogi’s Taj Mahal for fear of being raped. Is this the India we want?

Ban those lawyers from practicing the law for defending the rapists, and ban the politicians from holding public office if they support and abet rapists.

I am not sure if Modi has the guts to do it, but I urge him to take action before people completely write him off.

I urge Hindus and Muslims to feel the pain together and never let the divisive men pit Hindus against Muslims or vice versa.  Let them be the losers and not the general public.

What we need is sane voices – and not a Hindu Muslim conflict which the politicians would love it, but you and I will lose it.   In the last two months, we had two fathers; a Hindu and a Muslim; two great heroic fathers in India. Each one of them lost their sons to hate by Muslim and Hindus each, but the patriotic fathers urged the politicians keep calm and not allow them to pit one group of Indians against the other.  It must have been painful for them not to seek revenge.  I hope Mr. Modi honors them as heroes of India. More at

Warning to Indians

Let this be a warning to Indian businessmen, Indian women, and all the young people who are enjoying a good life at this time. All of this will come to an end if Law and Order are not restored.

Modi and Yogi have nothing to lose, but ordinary people do, it is their livelihood.  Much of our prosperity hinges on foreign direct investments, export of software and contracting work and tourism including medical tourism.

If the investors continue to see the chaos, rape, communal strife, lynching, harassment, and restrictions on what one eats and who he or she marries, they will pull out of India. Who wants to invest in a place where their investment is not secure?   Would you invest in Burma, Sri LankaAfghanistan and Ethiopia and even Pakistan?

(The author is the president of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.)

Modi will sink India if he does not rein in the rapists

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