2017 Gorakhpur Hospital Deaths: Doctors Rot in Jail Without Bail For 10 Mths Now
BRD Medical College Principal DR RK Mishra and wife in happier days
NEW DELHI: Dr Kafeel Khan is out on bail but the Principal of Baba Raghav Das Medical College Dr R.K.Mishra and his wife along with four clerks continue to remain in jail without bail. Over ten months have passed since they were arrested in connection with the deaths of children following sudden stoppage of the oxygen supply at the now infamous hospital in Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s home constitutency, Gorakhpur.
Dr Mishra and his wife’s bail has been rejected on grounds quite the opposite to those that were cited to give Dr Khan bail after over eight months in jail without justice. In Dr Khan’s case bail was granted by the same Allahabad high court recognising the state governments claim that the deaths had not occurred because of a shortage of oxygen. In the Mishras case, bail was denied on teh grounds that he was responsible for non payment of dues that led to the stoppage of the oxygen supply that in turn led to the deaths.
The case is now with the Supreme Court and expected to be heard tomorrow morning.
Running from pillar to post to establish his parents innocence is Dr Purak Mishra, a young surgeon who left his job in a reputed Delhi hospital to manage affairs after they were arrested. “I am all alone, and have to manage everything,” he said in between answering phone calls from the lawyers to discuss modalities of payment. Visibly stressed out, he is the surviving son of the Mishra's whose little daughter drowned on a school trip to Kanyakumar in 2004. This was a sudden shock for the family with the young doctor now completely alone, without help. What about extended family? They have all disappeared since, he smiles wryly.
Purak Mishra carries a dossier of documents with him to prove that his father was not involved in any of the financial irregularities to do with the non payment of dues to the suppliers of the oxygen, Pushpa Sales. In fact the Director General of Medical Education and Health, Dr KK Gupta was the sanctioning authority for the budget, and released this at intervals with direct instructions to Principal Mishra about its usage. The dossier contains copies of reminders sent by Dr Mishra, letters acquiring urgency after Pushpa Sales threatened to stop the supply maintaining that if the pending dues were not cleared children's lives would be at stake. His letters were ignored and ironically Dr Gupta went on to head the enquiry and file the FIR against the Mishras.
Dr Mishra’s wife Mrs Purnima Shukla is a homeopathic doctor. And has been arrested clearly on charges of being involved in the administrative affairs of BRD College. However, she was not an employee or in any formal way connected with the hospital and the first enquiry by the District Magistrate---that was not recognised by Adityanath---does not even mention her, according to the documents with Dr Purak Mishra who is categorical that his parents have been made a scapegoat for others sitting in Lucknow.
Dr Mishra is suffering from diabetes and is a cardiac patient. He has been hospitalised twice in a serious condition in RML College, Lucknow. His son says that his condition is deteriorating again, and they will move for his transfer to hospital after the hearing in Delhi tomorrow. “They are both helpless and disheartened, they have given up all hope. They live now only to see me in prison,” he says looking himself very depressed and down. Dr Purak Mishra says he is allowed to meet him thrice a week, and tries to do this to keep their spirits up unless---like now---he has to be away on court matters.
He is clear that his parents have been framed. This is the only reason he can think of why his parents are still in jail, “they need someone I guess.” “There was this immediate rumour campaign against them, as if they were responsible for everything that was happening in BRD college that is dependent entirely on Lucknow and government funds,” he says. For instance there was this rumour spread that Dr Mishra had run off without informing anyone. He shows a letter written by the Principal at the time in response to a letter from Lucknow, saying that he was going to Rishikesh as per the order. And the letter is marked to the Acting Principal, as well as the DGME amongst others.
Bail, however, continues to be denied with now the SC intervention seeming to be the only hope for the doctors and the clerks charged with “culpable homicide.” Four of the ten have been released after more than eight months in jail, six now remain imprisoned. Adityanath hit by the large scale deaths in the hospital had promised the ‘best investigation’ ever. Clearly this promise rests on the denial of the individuals right to bail, under the applicable laws.