As the Bollywood movie ‘Jawan’ is gaining a lot of appreciation for addressing socio-political issues in the country, Dr Kafeel Khan, who assumed he was the inspiration behind the hospital scene, wrote a letter to Shah Rukh Khan to appreciate him for highlighting the subject.
The movie covered the issues of the general public including high suicide rates of farmers and deplorable condition of government hospitals. Among the issues raised in the film, the fans believe that the character of the doctor, played by Sanya Malhotra, was loosely based on Dr. Kafeel Khan as he was also blamed for the death of 63 kids who succumbed to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome at state-run BRD Medical College in 2017. Later, the Uttar Pradesh government got him jailed for negligence in his duty, however, in 2019, he was acquitted of all charges.
In the letter to Badshah, Dr. Khan wrote, “The movie’s poignant portrayal of the tragic ‘Gorakhpur Encephalitis’ incident has left an indelible mark on my heart. As someone who has had a personal connection with the incident and its aftermath, I was profoundly moved by your decision to bring this story to the screen.”
“While I understand that Jawan is a work of fiction, the parallels it draws to the Gorakhpur tragedy serve as a powerful reminder of the systemic failures, apathy and most importantly, the innocent lives lost. It underscores the urgent need for accountability within our healthcare system. The character portrayed by Sanya Malhotra ma’am (as Dr. Eeram Khan) although not directly referencing me, encapsulated the experiences I faced. It was heartening to witness the real culprit of ‘The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy’ got caught, though sadly in real life the real culprits are roaming free, me still struggling to get my job back, and those 63 parents who lost their little ones still waiting for justice,” he added.
Notably, at least 63 children died at BRD Medical College in UP between August 10 and 11 in 2017 because of disruption in oxygen supply due to pending payments to the supplier, a charge that was refuted by the state government.
Following this, Dr. Kafeel Khan was accused of negligence and corruption for the death of the children and arrested in connection with the matter. However, later in 2019, he was acquitted of charges.
After getting the clean chit, Dr. Khan said he was made scapegoat by the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government to save the real culprits.