New Delhi: Dr Kafeel Khan was released from a Mathura jail on Tuesday night, after the Allahabad high court set aside his detention under the National Security Act. The court said the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to detain Khan was “not sustainable in the eye of law”.
Khan was arrested in January from Mumbai, with the Uttar Pradesh police alleging that he made a ‘provocative’ speech at the Aligarh Muslim University during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests. Though he was granted bail soon after, he wasn’t released – and the police slapped charges under the NSA against him. The court has slammed this action, saying Khan’s speech “does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence”.
This is not the first time the Uttar Pradesh police has gone after Khan. It was widely believed that he was made a scapegoat in the Gorakhpur oxygen shortage tragedy that led to the deaths of more than a hundred children. Here is a brief timeline of Khan’s encounters with the UP police, his arrests and his release.
September 2, 2017: Khan, who was the nodal officer of the BRD Medical College, was arrested under various sections of the IPC, Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Medical Council Act for the death of infants at the hospital. He was one of nine people accused in the case.
April 21, 2018: Khan wrote a ten-page letter claiming innocence. “I surrendered to save my family from the humiliation, misery, thinking that when I have not done anything wrong, I should get justice,” he wrote.
April 25, 2018: The Allahabad high court granted Khan bail, saying that he was not needed in custody since the chargesheet had been filed.
June 10, 2018: Khan’s brother, Kashif Jameel, was shot three times and survived. “I always said they would try to kill us,” Khan said after the attack.
September 27, 2019: Two years after the infant deaths (of which Khan spent about nine months in jail), he was absolved of all charges in the case. An internal hospital inquiry committee has cleared him of the allegations and said that he was not the nodal officer of the encephalitis ward and thus it was not negligence on his part that led to the deaths.
October 4, 2019: The Uttar Pradesh government ordered a fresh probe into Khan. 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.
December 12, 2019: Khan delivered a speech at the anti-CAA protest at Aligarh Muslim University. Read the full speech here.
January 30, 2020: Uttar Pradesh police arrested Khan from the airport for his speech at AMU, saying he made ‘inflammatory’ and ‘provocative’ statements. The FIR was filed under IPC Section 153A.
January 31, 2020: Khan was remanded to judicial custody and sent to a Mathura jail.
February 10, 2020: Khan was granted bail by an Aligarh court, but not released from jail.
February 14, 2020: Charges under the National Security Act invoked against Khan. The NSA allows the government to detain people for up to one year without a trial if they suspect that they could disrupt public order, endanger the security of India or its ties with foreign countries.
August 17, 2020: UP government extended Khan’s NSA detention by three months.
September 1, 2020: The Allahabad high court set aside Khan’s detention under the NSA. He was released from jail at night.