Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government was indulging in ‘Baal Hatth’ or childlike-stubbornness instead of observing ‘Raj Dharma’ and could frame him in another case, Dr Kafeel Khan said after being released from Mathura jail late on Tuesday night.
He was in jail since January after he delivered an allegedly provocative speech at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in December last year.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Allahabad High Court quashed his detention under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) and ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to release him “forthwith”, saying his speech at the AMU didn’t promote hatred or violence and called for national integrity.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and the AMU Resident Doctors’ Association on Wednesday welcomed Khan’s release and termed it a “victory of justice”.
Speaking to PTI after his release, Khan said, “I will always remain thankful to all my well-wishers who raised their voice for my release. The administration was not ready for (my) release but I have been released because of the prayers of people.”
“In Ramayana, Maharshi Valmiki had said that the ‘raja’ (king) should act for ‘Raj Dharma’. In UP, the ‘raja’ is not doing ‘Raj Dharma’ but is doing ‘Baal Hatth’ (being stubborn like a child),” the pediatrician said.
Khan, who first hit headlines in 2017 following his suspension from Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College after several children died there due to the lack of oxygen cylinders, said he was apprehensive that the government may frame him in another case.
He claimed that he and his family have had to face many hardships as the state government was “after” him because of the oxygen issue at BRD Medical College.
He said he now wants to help flood-affected people in Bihar and Assam.
In its verdict, the Allahabad High Court said the Aligarh district magistrate, who passed the order for Khan’s detention, did a “selective reading” of his speech, “ignoring its true intent”.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh allowed the writ petition filed by Khan’s mother Nuzhat Parveen and said the detention order by the district magistrate is illegal.
Quashing Khan’s detention order, the court said, “A complete reading of the speech prima facia does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also nowhere threatens the peace and tranquility of the city of Aligarh. The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence.”
“A writ in the nature of habeas corpus is hereby issued to release Dr. Kafeel Khan, the detenue, from State custody forthwith,” it said.
Khan was charged under the NSA on February 13. The Uttar Pradesh government had extended his detention under the stringent law by three months twice — in May and August.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav lauded the court order and hoped party leader Azam Khan, who has been “framed in false cases”, will also get justice.
“All justice-lovers have welcomed the high court’s order for the release of Dr Kafeel Khan from detention. We hope Azam Khan, framed in false cases, will also get justice. Injustice and atrocities of those in power do not last long,” Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi.
SP leader Azam Khan is in jail in connection with a number of cases including that of land grabbing filed against him in Rampur.
On Tuesday, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had also hailed the court order. She congratulated all “justice-loving people” and party workers in the state who had been making efforts for Khan’s release.
The Resident Doctors’ Association at the AMU also welcomed Khan’s release.
Hamza Malik, president of the association, described Khan’s release as a “victory of justice”.
Khan had always stood for humanitarian values as a doctor, maintained the high traditions of the medical profession and never indulged in divisive activities, Malik said on Wednesday.
Former AMU students’ union president Faizul Hasan said Khan’s release is a “victory for truth and democracy”.
Khan exercised his democratic right to protest but never resorted to undemocratic means, and always championed the spirit of unity and communal harmony, he said.
Khan was initially hailed as a saviour for the children at the BRD Medical College for arranging emergency oxygen cylinders. However, later, he faced action along with nine other doctors and staff members of the hospital, all of whom were released on bail.
A state government probe had cleared Khan of all major charges, prompting him to seek an apology from the Yogi Adityanath government. He had alleged that an institutional failure had led to the deaths of the children.