The campaign, #Dr KafeelKhanKoAzaadKaro was in fact trending on Twitter in India on Tuesday evening. The message with the tweet was simple — “Tweet with the hashtag from 4pm on Tuesday to amplify the message.”
Shabista Khan in a video message urged people to come with her to run a campaign for release of the controversial pedestrian.
This is Dr Shabista Khan W/O Dr Kafeel khan डॉ कफील खान आज जेल में है क्योंकि उन्होंने हम सब के लिए आवाज उठाई क्या… https://t.co/Ro4WVGL1M6
— Dr Shabista Khan (@ShabistaDr) 1596524817000
Just a fortnight ago, #ReleaseOurDrKafeel trended on Twitter in India.
According to Kafeel Khan’s brother Adeel Ahmad Khan, the habeas corpus plea was filed by their mother Nuzhat Parveen. The plea challenged the detention of Dr Kafeel for four days before imposing NSA on him even after he secured bail in all the cases registered against him.
He said, “how can he disrupt the law and order situation during a pandemic when all schools and colleges are shut.”
Khan has been behind bars since January 29 after a speech he had delivered at Aligarh Muslim University during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests was deemed “provocative” by the UP government, which booked him under the National Security Act (NSA) hours after he had got bail in the case. Detention under NSA allows the state to detain a person for up to 12 months, which can be extended if the state finds “fresh evidence”.
The tweets in support of the doctor started pouring in at 4pm, with many sharing videos and pics of the doctor’s work treating children in underprivileged areas. People tweeted with the message that the Kafeel only crime was that his name has “Khan” in it. Many political representatives across party lines also tweeted in his support. Bollywood actors Richa Chadha and Swara Bhasker lent their support with the hashtag #FreeDrKafeel.
While the campaign demanding Dr Khan’s release has been a sustained one, he was in news recently after a letter he wrote about the conditions of the prison in Mathura was shared on social media. The four-page letter, purportedly written by him in June, spoke of the “hellish” conditions of his barracks, where 150 inmates were sharing a toilet.
Earlier, in March, just as the magnitude of Covid-19 was hitting governments across the world, he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting that he be allowed to use his medical expertise to help in the fight against the pandemic. “I have conducted 103 free medical camps since out of jail after the BRD oxygen tragedy examining over 50,000 children/patients all over India…I feel I could be of some help in curtailing this disease,” he had written.
The death of nearly 60 children at the state-run BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur due to oxygen shortage was the flashpoint which had put Dr Khan on what was to be a recurring firing line. He was charged with medical negligence and dereliction of duty but absolved after two years — he had spent nine months behind bars at the time. Then in January this year, he was arrested in Mumbai for his anti-CAA speech. He has been behind bars since.