GORAKHPUR: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered FIRs to be registered against doctors and administrative officers, including strangely enough the one doctor who worked long hours to save lives Dr Kafeel Khan, for the Gorakhpur tragedy where almost 70 children died at the state run BRD Medical College because of the deliberate disruption of oxygen supply.

Adityanath whose government did not confirm receiving what was reported in the local media as a fairly impartial enquiry by the District Magistrate into the tragedy, appointed the UP Chief Secretary to investigate. This report has ensured that the buck for the deaths stops at the door of the doctors and officials of the hospital, with the oxygen supplier Pushpa Sales also being held accountable. Not a word of indictment, however, for those in charge namely the CM himself and his Medical Education Minister Ashutosh Tandon. The DG medical education KK Gupta is also off the hook, although the Additional Chief Secretary Anita Bhatnagar Jain has been transferred.

This despite the fact that the local media had been reporting details of the impending disruption in the oxygen supply, days before the tragedy struck. And the fact that Pushpa Sales was looking to clear its dues of Rs 68 lakhs seems to have been well within public knowledge. Several doctors spoken to confirmed this to The Citizen, with perhaps only the state government being ‘unaware’ of the looming crisis.

Adityanath, during a visit to the hospital after the deaths, zeroed in on the one doctor who was being praised by staff and patients for working around the clock to beef up the oxygen supply for the dying children Dr Kafeel Khan. The CM reportedly rebuked him in front of all for being a ‘hero’, reportedly because he had been interviewed by local tv channels in recognition of the work done.

Dr Khan, who has gone indoors since, has made some videos that are available within a closed circle. One of these, a copy of which is with The Citizen, registered the visible tension on his face, as he wonders why he is being pilloried for a crime not committed him. And how he had informed the senior officials about the effort to gather oxygen cylinders to save the lives of the encephalitis inflited children, and had not done so without permission.

Even so a FIR has been filed against Dr Khan, and while the charge is not clear it seems to have more to do with his private practice than any real dereliction of duty in connection with the tragedy that the Chief Secretary was authorised to inviestigate. Incidentally most doctors in government run hospitals, including BRD College, run their own private practices. FIRs have also been filed against the Principal Dr Rajiv Mishra, his wife Purnima Shukla against whom there are charges of seeking commission, and Pushpa Sales ostensibly for taking the decision to stop the supply despite repeated reminders to the College, and later to the state government, for the payment of the substantial sum owed to it.

Minister Tandon, son of BJP veteran Lalji Tandon, remains unscathed. Adityanath of course spoke of the guilty not being spared, of “exemplary punishment” but there has not been a word as to why the state government did not act in time. And how had such a serious issue affecting one of the largest government run hospitals in the CMs own constituency escaped the attention of both Adityanath who has men in place to monitor Gorakhpur, and Tandon.

Significantly, while this probe has been of course limited to BRD College there has been no official response from the Adityanath government to reports of the offer by Principals of three state medical colleges to resign. Citing “murky affairs” as the media reports stated, in the medical education department headed by Tandon these Principals have alleged corruption, ad hocism. The three principals are from the Sharanapur, Jhansi and Agra Medical Colleges.

In another development the Allahabad High Court has asked the state and central governments for their responses to several Public Interest Litigations filed on the tragedy, seeking a judicial probe. The enquiry by the state Chief Secretary might have given the CM the handle to take action against the doctors, but has clearly not satisfied the Opposition that is also demanding an impartial investigation into the tragedy.