New Delhi: On the day he was supposed to be released on bail, as granted by an Aligarh court, the Uttar Pradesh police slapped the stringent National Security Act (NSA) on Dr Kafeel Khan citing an alleged inflammatory speech made by him during an anti-CAA protest meeting in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on December 12.
Khan was granted bail on February 10 and was to be released on Friday from the Mathura jail since the past 17 days.
Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhari confirmed that Khan was booked under NSA when his family members, led by his lawyer reached Mathura jail to receive him. "NSA has been slapped against Dr Kafeel Khan. He will remain in jail," Kulhari told the media.
Khan was arrested by the UP Special Task Force (STF) from Mumbai on January 29 in connection with a speech he had delivered during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest at AMU, for allegedly promoting enmity between different religions.
A case was registered against Khan at the Civil Lines police station in Aligarh. After his arrest, Khan was brought to Aligarh and then immediately shifted to the district jail in neighbouring Mathura.
Police said that this was done as a precautionary measure in view of the anti-CAA protests at the AMU campus and at Eidgah grounds in the old quarters of the city, claiming that his presence in Aligarh jail could have “worsened the law-and-order situation” in the city.
Reacting to the stringent NSA being slapped on his brother, Khan’s brother, Adil, said the jail authorities did not provide any reason for withholding his release even though the court sent a special reminder to the both Aligarh and Mathura jail authorities to expedite the release after he approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court, Aligarh.
"Dr. Kafeel got bail on February 10 and three days after when he did not come out of jail then we filed a contempt of court on February 13 evening at CJM court Aligarh. The court assigned an official named Parmeet Kumar to complete the procedure to release Kafeel immediately. When Parmeet reached Aligarh jail with bail order, he was told that Kafeel will step out at late night but they did not release him and asked to come on February 14 in the morning at 6 a.m. When Parmeet, along with Kafeel Khan's lawyer Irfan Ghazi, reached to receive him, instead of releasing him, they were handed over a paper and told that Kafeel had been booked under NSA and will remain in jail."
He also accused the government of "trying to silence my brother”, adding that “a few days ago, during a programme on a TV news channel, he had revealed that at BRD Medical College (Gorakhpur), many children are dying daily but the government is hiding the facts and data."
Sabista Khan, Khan’s wife, who has been continuously appealing in social media against the “injustice” being meted out to her husband, said accused the UP Police of targeting her husband ever since he exposed the cause of deaths of 60 children due to lack of oxygen at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur.
"Kafeel Khan has been arrested for an anti-CAA speech but the real reason behind his arrest and persistent witch-hunt is his expose on UP government's complicity in the death of infants in BRD Hospital, Gorakhpur. Despite this witch-hunt, he has conducted more than a 100 free health camps across the country," Sabista told NewsClick.
She said that Kafeel Khan was booked under NSA just to “zip his mouth”. "The UP police is harassing my husband at the behest of the Yogi Adityanath government," she alleged.
When asked, Shailendra Maitrey, Mathura jail Superintendent told mediapersons that "Dr. Kafeel Khan was to be released on Friday morning but before that, we received an order from Aligarh District Magistrate that he has been booked under National Security Act (NSA)."
According to documents seen by NewsClick, the paper handed over to the doctor’ family says that Kafeel Khan cannot be released, as once he is released from jail, he will go to AMU and address the students.
NSA: What Legal Experts Say
The NSA allows preventive detention for months if the authorities feel that a person is a threat to national security or law and order.
Commenting on the NSA, Khan's lawyer Ghazi told NewsClick, "The jail authorities are harassing Kafeel Khan despite the fact that he got a release order from CJM’s court. The release order was sent to both Aligarh and Mathura jail authorities, but both refused to accept it."
Ghazi, in his application to the CJM, explained that this was not only contempt of court but a violation of human rights.
Another Supreme Court lawyer, Anas Tanvir, told NewsClick that if someone has not said anything defamatory against the nation, s/he is not liable to be booked under sedition or NSA.
"Dr. Kafeel's arrest is totally illegal as the FIR does not mentioned that he has spoken anything defamatory. The strange part is that the FIR was lodged in Aligarh, he was arrested by STF from Mumbai and was sent to Mathura jail not in Aligarh,” he said.
Kafeel Khan had come under the spotlight three years ago when he was arrested for his alleged role in the death of over 60 children within a week at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur in August 2017. Short supply of oxygen at the children's ward was blamed at that time for the deaths.
About two years later, a state government probe cleared Khan of all major charges, prompting him to seek an apology from the Yogi Adityanath government.
(with inputs from PTI)