Photo: UP Congress/Twitter
Photo: UP Congress/Twitter

On Monday, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi met with recently freed doctor, Kafeel Khan and his family. The pediatrician who had been imprisoned for some time under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) now lives in Jaipur.

".@INCIndia General Secretary @priyankagandhi Ji meets Dr Kafeel Khan and his family, tweeted party leader Saral Patel sharing pictures of the same.

Released after more than seven months in jail, Khan had recently written to the UN Human Rights Commission.

"Thank you all for urging our Indian government to immediately release human rights defenders who have been arrested for peacefully protesting against CAA/NRC," he had tweeted sharing the letter.

For the uninitiated, the doctor from Gorakhpur has first made headlines after after being hailed as a hero for saving the lives of children in a hospital. In charge of the encephalitis ward of BRD Medical College at a time when the hospital was battling an oxygen shortage supply, he had stepped up to make sure that the oxygen supply was not disrupted for critically ill children.

Soon after, however, he had become the villain of the story and was eventually, in September 2017, arrested on a non-bailable warrant for his role in death of 63 children. After nearly nine months of imprisonment, the Allahabad HC said that there was no evidence of medical negligence on the part of Khan and in September 2019, he was acquitted of all charges.

But then came the second arrest amid protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act. In December 2019, Khan was arrested for speeches he had made at the Aligarh Muslim University that had allegedly incited protests. While Khan was granted bail by an Aligarh court in February 2020, three days later he had been arrested again, this time under the National Security Act. This happened before he could actually be released from jail after the bail announcement.

After several extensions to his detention period, on September 1, the Allahabad High Court had ordered the release of the Gorakhpur doctor and quashed his detention under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).

In his letter, Khan thanked the UN rights body for urging the Indian government to protect human rights of activists arrested for "peacefully protesting against CAA" and said that the government "has not listened to their appeal".

"Authorities continue to invoke counter-terrorism and national security legislations using procedural police powers against these human right defenders for raising issues which would affect India's poorest and most marginalised community, violating international human right standards," Khan wrote.

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Free Press Journal