The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy


Author: Kafeel Khan

9789390742714 | PB | pp. 344 | 2021 | Pan Macmillan India

In 2017 Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College had an oxygen cylinder shortage. Here Dr Khan describes his efforts to control the crisis, the failure of the system and the turmoil that followed.

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On the evening of 10 August 2017, liquid oxygen ran out at the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College’s Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Reportedly, over the next two days, more than eighty patients – sixty-three children and eighteen adults – lost their lives. In the intervening hours, Dr Kafeel Khan, the junior-most lecturer at the college’s paediatrics department, went to extraordinary lengths to secure oxygen cylinders, perform emergency treatment and rally the staff in order to prevent as many deaths as possible. As the news of the tragedy grabbed national attention, Khan was called a hero for working ceaselessly to control the crisis and drawing attention to a healthcare system in dire need of repair. But a few days later, he found himself suspended and that an FIR had been filed against nine individuals, including him, for corruption and medical negligence, among other grave charges. Soon after he was summarily carted off to jail. The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy is Kafeel Khan’s first-hand chronicle of the events of that fateful night in August 2017 and the gut-wrenching turmoil that followed – a suspension without end, an eight-month-long incarceration and a relentless fight for justice in the face of extreme apathy and persecution.

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Kafeel Khan




Pan Macmillan India





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About the Author

The author was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. After completing his MBBS and MD in Paediatrics at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, in Karnataka, he worked as an assistant professor at the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences in Gangtok, before joining the Baba Raghav Das Medical College, Gorakhpur, as a lecturer.

Since his suspension from the BRD Medical College’s Nehru Hospital after the medical crisis of August 2017 and subsequent release from Gorakhpur Jail, Khan, along with his team and the help of ordinary citizens, has been working under the banner of Dr Kafeel Khan Mission Smile Foundation. He has also started a Health for All campaign to demand the Right to Healthcare legislation and has launched a new initiative named Doctors on Road to provide healthcare services to patients in the Indian hinterlands.

In January 2020, Khan was arrested again and charged under the National Security Act (NSA) for his allegedly inflammatory speech at the Aligarh Muslim University; he subsequently spent seven months in prison. On 1 September 2020, his detention was set aside and all charges under the NSA were quashed by the Allahabad High Court.

Khan was terminated from service on 9 November 2021 by the BRD Medical College and, as of December 2021, cases against him are being pursued in lower courts even though the enquiries conducted by the state and central governments have not found any evidence of medical negligence or corruption on his part.


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