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This is a letter by Dr. Kafeel Khan, whose sole "crime" was trying to prevent deaths from deprivation of oxygen. He was arrested and has now spent 8 months in jail without bail for little reason more than the state needing a scapegoat for its own failures.

8MS, IN JAIL WITHOUT BAIL

AM I REALLY GUILTY?

I cherished each moment. Every scene is still alive like it is happening right now in front of my eyes, even after 8 months of unbearable torture, humiliation behind the bars. Sometime I asked myself am I really guilty? And the answer pop out from the core of my heart

No, no - A Big NO.

The moment I got that WhatsApp message on that 10th August 17 fateful night, I did everything a doctor, a father, a responsible CITIZEN OF INDIA would/should do. I tried to save each and every life who was in danger due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen. I did my level best to save those innocent kids who were dying because of lack of oxygen.

I frantically called everyone,
I begged, I talked, I ran,
I drove, I ordered, I yelled,
I screamed, I consoled, I counselled,
I spent, I borrowed, I cried
I did all what is humanly possible.

I called my Head of the Department, my colleagues, Principal BRD, Acting Principal BRD, DM GKP, AD Health GKP, CMS/SIC GKP, CMS/SIC BRD MC informed them about the grave situation arising due to sudden stoppage of liquid oxygen and how kids life are in danger due to lack of oxygen supply. [I have all the call records]

I begged gas suppliers MODI GAS, BALA JI, Imperial GAS, Mayur Gas Agency, All the hospitals around BRD medical college afterr arranging their contact No - for jumbo cylinders to save hundreds of life of innocent kids.

I paid them cash and assured them will pay rest on delivery. [We arranged 250 cylinders/day until liquid oxygen tank arrived. One jumbo cylinder cost 216/- Rs]

I ran from one Qubical to another, from ward 100 to ward 12 to Emergency Ward. From point of oxygen supply to point of delivery to make sure uninterrupted oxygen delivery.

I drove to get cylinder from nearby Hospitals in my car. When I realized that was not sufficient I drove to SSB and met its DIG and explained him the unprecedented situation. Their response was very quick and supporting. They arranged big truck and group of soldiers to carry supply cylinders from BRD to Gas Agency, filled it, brought to BRD and ran again to refill. They worked for continuous 48 hours.

Their spirit boost ours. I salute SSB and very thankful for their help.

JAI HIND

I spoke to my junior/senior doctors, I ordered my staff. Don't get panic, don't be disheartened, do not get angry with agitated parents, do not take brake - we had to work as a team to treat efficiently to save every life.

I consoled grieving parents who had lost their kids, I counselled those agitated parents who were getting angry after losing their kids. There was so much chaos. I explained to them liquid O2 is finished, but we are trying to make it with jumbo oxygen cylinders.

I yelled/screamed to everyone to focus on savings lives. I cried. Actually everyone in the team cried to see the havoc created by the Administrative failure to pay the dues to the liquid oxygen suppliers - resulting in such a grave situation.

We did not stop trying until liquid oxygen tank arrived around 1:30 am on 13-08-2017.

But my life turned upside down when CM Yogiji Maharaj arrived next morning on 13-08-17. He asked – so you are Dr Kafeel? You arranged cylinders?

I was like – yes sir.

He got angry – so you think by arranging cylinders, you became hero, I will see it.

Yogiji was angry because – how this incident came into the media. I swear to my Allah, I did not inform any media person that night. They were already there that night itself.

Then police started coming to our home – hounding, threatening, torturing my family. People warned they would kill me in an encounter. My family, my mother, my wife, my kids were so scared that I do not have words.

I surrendered to save my family from the humiliation, misery – thinking when I have not done anything wrong, I should get justice.

But numbers of days, weeks and months passed – August, 2017 to April, 2018. Holi came, Dussehra came, Christmas gone, New Year came, Diwali came – every date – Tareekh Par Tareekh (date after dates) hoping will get bail. Then we realised that judiciary is also working under pressure. (Even they acknowledged the same)

Sleeping on floor with more than 150 prisoners in a cramped barrack with millions of mosquito at night and thousands of flies in the day. Trying to swallow food to live, bath half naked in the field and sit in a toilet with broken door. Waiting for Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday to meet my family.

Life is hell, miserable not only for me but for my whole family. They had to run from one pillar to another – from police station to court, from Gorakhpur to Allahabad – in hope of justice. But all in vain.

My daughter whose first bithday I could not celebrate is now 1 year 7 months old. As a pediatrician, it is very painful, disheartening not to see his child to grow. As a pediatrician, I used to taught parents importance of milestones and myself do not know when my daughter started walking, speaking and running.

So now again that question haunts me – am I really guilty? No, no – NO.

I was on leave on 10th August 2017. (It was sanctioned by my HoD). Still, I rushed to do my duties – is that wrong?

They made me head of the department, vice chancellor of BRD, prabhari (in-charge) of 100-bed acute encephalitis syndrome (AEH) ward. I am a junior most doctor and joined only on 08-08-2016 as a permanent employee. I was working as nodal officer with NRHM and lecturer pediatrics. My whole work is to teach students, treat kids. I was nowhere involved with purchase/tender/order/maintenance/supply/payment of liquid oxygen/jumbo cylinders.

If Pushpa Sales (the official supplier) stopped liquid oxygen supply, how am I responsible for that? Even non medico could tell doctors’ work is to treat, not to buy oxygen.

The guilty are DM Gorakhpur, DGME (director general of medical education), principal secretary health education for not taking any action against 14 reminders sent by Pushpa Sales for its Rs 68 lakh dues.

It was a total administrative failure at higher level, they did not realise the gravity and just to save themselves, they made us scapegoat and put us behind the bars so that truth will remain inside Gorakhpur jail.

When Manish Bhandari (director of Pushpa Sales) got bail, we same same light that may be now we would also get justice and come out to live with my family and to serve again.

But No – we are still waiting.

Supreme Court says – bail is the right, prison is exception. This is a classical example of miscarriage of justice.

I hope time would come and I would be free with my family and my daughter. Truth will prevail. Justice would be served.

A helpless, broken heart father, husband, brother, son and friend

Dr Kafeel Khan

BUJ condemns HT Media's decision to shut down 6 editions

The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) strongly condemns the illegal decision of HT Media Ltd to shut down six editions of Hindustan Times (HT) at Bhopal, Indore, Ranchi, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi with effect from 09 January 2017.

The closing down of six editions at one go is an unprecedented event in the history of Indian print media and has clearly been done to circumvent the implementation of the Majithia Wage Board Award which was upheld by the Supreme Court by its judgment dated 07 February 2014.

Apart from closing down six editions, HT Media Ltd is also illegally "pruning" staff in various departments as well as in The Mint, a sister publication from the Group and has shut down the business bureaus in Mumbai and Delhi, besides the bureau in Kolkata. Hundreds of journalists are likely to lose their jobs as a consequence of these malicious and illegal decisions.

HT Media Ltd, a BSE listed entity, with a yearly turnover of over Rs 2000 crore has not implemented the Award in any of its units and has forced employees to submit undertakings under Clause 20(j) of the Award to renounce the benefits under it.

The Company has also failed to implement Clause 9(b) of the Award which entitles even those working on contract basis to receive Variable Pay at the rate of 30 per cent of basic scale.

Section 16-A of The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955) expressly prohibits a newspaper establishment from dismissing, discharging or retrenching any newspaper employee by reason of its liability for payment of wages under the Award.

Further, the Hon'ble Supreme Court is currently hearing a bunch of Contempt petitions filed against various newspaper establish managements and was all set to hear arguments on several legal issues including an interpretation of Clause 20 (j) of the Award.

It is astonishing that a hugely profitable company like HT Media Ltd (whose third quarter of Calendar 2016 earnings stood at Rs 602.23 crore) has chosen to illegally close down six editions of Hindustan Times and sack several other journalists working in various bureaus rather than implement the Majithia Wage Board Award.

Furthermore, the Company's official website has projected a total revenue of Rs 662.40 crore, in Q1FY2017, which constitutes an increase of 7.5 per cent over the corresponding quarter of the previous year. It also maintains a strong balance sheet position with a net cash of Rs 823.40 crore.

The BUJ demands that the management of HT Media Ltd should immediately revoke its decisions to shut down six editions and sack journalists in various bureaus, failing which it will draw the attention of the Honorable Supreme Court to these developments in the hearing slated for 10 January 2017.

BRIHANMUMBAI UNION OF JOURNALISTS

23-24-25, Prospect Chambers Annexe, D.N.Road, MUMBAI - 400 001

Phone: 022-22816671

The latest rabbit from the same old hat. That of discriminatory policies by college managements against interests of socially or economically backwards students and then disproportionate and unjust action against students who protest against it.

Press Release by Richa Singh, President, Allahabad University Students Union

Attempt to dissolve Allahabad University Student Union, after student protest erupted against compulsory online application for admission

  • Student protest erupted against compulsory online application form for admission
  • Student demanded for offline option, along with online
  • VC rusticated President, Vice-President and General Secretary of the union and then withdrew the order in an hour
  • Attempt to slap serious criminal charges against president Richa Singh by the VC
  • Richa Singh decided to intensify the struggle against compulsory online application and against VC’s attempt to implicate her under false charges

30th April, 2016, Allahabad. On Saturday large scale student protest erupted in Allahabad University against compulsory online application form for those seeking admission in post graduate courses. Students demanded option for offline along with online as most of the students come from rural background. President, Richa Singh said, “When most of the central universities like BHU, AMU, JNU, Hyderabad University and others have both the options then why not in University of Allahabad. It is more than needed in Allahabad University because it is located in a state which has 78% of rural population. Thus, making online application compulsory is going to prevent the entry of many, coming from rural background and from marginalized community.”

When students went with their demand to VC, he not only refused to meet with the elected office bearers of the student union but also locked himself in his office. Against that, for more than two hours, students organized dharna in front of VC office but in vain.

In a most shocking act, in the evening university authorities sent a press release, rusticating the President, Richa and other office bearers for organizing protest without informing the students. However, within an hour, press release was withdrawn and instead of that high powered committee is constituted to take disciplinary action against protesting student leaders. Student leaders have termed the act as an attempt to dissolve student union for the purpose of curtailing the student voice and movement. VC has also lodged criminal complaint against Richa Singh in police station. Richa said, “It is an attempt to implicate her under false charges and is in continuity with the previous acts. However, she is not going to be intimidated.” In the past also VC made attempt to expel Richa Singh but could not after the issue was raised in the Parliament. VC has also banned all kinds of political activities and programme inside the university campus.

Against the dictatorial acts of VC and to demand offline option, student leaders have taken the firm resolve to intensify the struggle in the coming days. They have decided to approach Members of Parliament of all political parties to take a categorical stand on making online application compulsory in a Central University, located in a state with 78% rural population. They have also decided to take the issue to the common people in Allahabad and neighbouring district, so that wider public opinion could be formed against the policy which in no uncertain terms is going to affect the prospects of students coming from rural background and from marginalized community.

Interesting is to note that till now 92% applicants have opted for offline mode for applying under graduate courses where both the options are available.

Originally shared by Anisha George on Facebook

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Narendra Dabholkar has become an icon of rationalist thought in India, but his works being mostly in Marathi are understood by few non-Maharashtrians for either endorsement or criticism. I am attempting to translate some of his speeches, so that his thoughts may reach more people and inform opinions. This is part 2 of the speech, starting around 11:30 minutes into the speech. Part 1 is here: Narendra Dabholkar's speech on tradition and superstition - English translation Part 1

The act against black magic and superstitions may not have been passed (It was passed after his murder), but nobody noticed that a law containing "Dev" (God) came into force in Maharashtra four years ago. The name of that act is Devdasi Prevention act 1934. It got amended four years ago. Now, if you marry a girl who has completed eighteen years of age to a God, then the person conducting the wedding is a criminal, the person marrying is a criminal, the parents of the person being married are criminals and those attending are criminals. You cannot say that parents and girls are willing, so what is your problem?

When I untangled the first jat (dreadlocks): We oil and comb our hair daily. Poor girls in rural areas may not. Sometimes their hair gets tangled and the tangles keep increasing and they are not able or don't untangle them. Once it starts becoming visible someone says "This is Yellama's jat." Then slowly they start offering her vermillion and turmeric, then applying banyan tree sap, then eventually she starts "channelling the goddess", then she starts taking the goddess for worship around the village and eventually becomes a devdasi and lands up into prostitution.

The jat that this whole thing begins with, the first time I untangled it, was 27 years ago. I still remember there was a beautiful eighteen year old girl called Mangala and I convinced her to untangle her old dreadlock. It was a four year old thick and long dreadlock. But before I could untangle it, the girl's mother came to meet my wife and told her "your husband doesn't know. He is putting his hand on Yellamai's jat. Yellama is a vengeful woman and if she gets enraged, she doesn't rest till she has made a guy wear a sari (emasculated him)." It is over twenty five years since I untangled the jat and I am still roaming around in these (male) clothes only.

From that one dreadlock, there were enough lice to supply the entire district of Satara. So our dispensary (Dr. Narendra Dabholkar practiced medicine till 1982) had women lining up to untangle their dreadlocks. Now the thing is, the woman who has a jat wears a cowrie necklace around her neck. Until that necklace called darshan must be put on another woman's neck, there is no permission to untangle the dreadlock.

You know what idea we did? Not we, my wife, I didn't used to be there. When the woman who wanted her hair untangled said "I have darshan on my neck, what do I do?" My wife used to say "Put it on my neck". So my wife used to wear the darshan and untangle her hair and our dispensary had darshans hung in rows. Nothing happened to us.

Why am I telling you this? Because even today the reality of our society needs to be understood and it isn't as simple and straightforward as it appears.

I had gone to Nashik. Nashik is preparing from now for the arrival of Sinhastha (Kumbh mela) in three years. Last time, a mere (sarcasm) 70 lakh people had arrived on one day to bathe in the river at one auspicious moment. 29 died crushed. Now this time around the estimates are for a crore. India has a fertile mind. So a discovery has happened in India that is found nowhere else in the world. It goes something like this.

Dev (Gods) and danav (demons) together churned the sea. 14 treasures emerged from it, the last of which was amrut. Now logically, if both did the work, they could have shared the proceeds. But Gods decided that they wanted to keep it all and started stealing it away. Both Gods and demons grabbed the vessel with amrut inside. 12 years they struggled to take it. In the process, one drop of amrut spilled on each of Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Godavari (Nashik). So we have discovered that in those twelve years if you go and at that exact moment bathe in the Godavari, your bank balance (karma) for sin for the last twelve years becomes zero. This facility can be found nowhere else in the world.

So thousands of sadhus arrive in fancy clothes and cars. They need thousands of liters of shrikhand and tens of thousands of liters of milk. When they go for the ritual bath, they fight like little children over who goes first. They smoke marijuana. All this isn't said by Narendra Dabholkar, but the one proclaimed to be equal to a sage in Maharashtra, who got a dnyanpeeth award. Kusumagraj (Marathi poet and author Mr V.V. Shirwadkar) has a poem called Sinhastha - have you read it? He has described all this in it.

[recites the poem - describes the excesses of the celebration and ostentatious "austerity"]

And for this last year, 433 crores were spent out of state coffers. At a time when half the schools in Maharashtra didn't have tin roofs or chalk and blackboard. I had gone there. I had printed copies of this poem and I had gone there to distribute it. Some Akashwani man saw and came over and interviewed me. And after the intervew, he hung his head and asked me if it would be okay if the interview played after the Sinhastha.

The budget for three years later is 1300 crores. What is the priority? Whoever wants to go and bathe can go and bathe. Why is money being spent from our pockets on religious things instead of the malnourished children?

The real problem is that we have all decided not to use intelligence. The biggest problem with traditions and orthodox practices is that we don't understand what we do. This question is not related with anyone's individual religious practices.

Vata savitri is worshipped. Shyamchi Aai (classic by Sane Guruji) describes how Shyam's mother is ill and she instructs him to go around the banyan tree on her behalf, and Shyam being male is ashamed to do it. She asks him, what is to feel ashamed in doing something good? I extrapolated this to what today's Shyam's mother would say and what today's Shyam should say. Shyam is Sane Guruji. For the last fourteen years, I'm the editor of Sadhana, established by Sane Guruji, so I have a right to ask this question.

What is the meaning of this? Firstly, after doing the vata savitri puja, the husband's life gets extended, and secondly, every birth, for seven years, she gets the same husband. This is what the vata savitri tradition tells us. So, for a doctor like me running a hospital, it is very easy. Put on a saline drip for the patient inside, plant a banyan tree outside and give a bundle of thread to the wife. Tell her "here, your husband has been started on saline, you wrap this thread around the tree seven times. By whatever reason, what matters is your husband will be saved"

The man you called Hindu Hriday Samarat, that Swatantraveer Savarkar has written that the banyan tree will shade the traveler under it, but when it is old and diseased, it will collapse on the traveler under it. Worshiping a banyan tree that doesn't even understand whether to shade or crush the traveler under it is worshiping falsehood. This isn't Narendra Dabholkar talking, it is the first Hindu Hridaysamrat Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who said it.

In Kolhapur, women were worshiping the banyan tree on the vata savitri day, going around the tree. A jeep came at full speed, one of the women was pulled into it by her arm, and it took off. It was outrageous. A woman was worshiping in the village and she got kidnapped like this, and people gave chase on motorcycles. The jeep wasn't going fast and they caught up with it. They asked "don't you understand anything? The woman was worshiping and is this appropriate?" The man who had pulled her asked the people "Do you know who I am?" "Who are you?" "I am her husband."

The people were surprised. "What's wrong with you? Your wife was worshiping for your long life and to get you as a husband for seven births, what is your problem?" The man replied "Two years since we married, she didn't even stay with me two months, I'll stay like this or what for seven births?"

I asked a woman who seemed clearly uninterested in the motions of the worship whether she was asking for the same husband for seven births, and she replied "I did ask for this same husband for seven births, only wished that this was the seventh birth."

What are we doing? What are we examining? We don't even understand that the traditional practices and rituals we do.

This is the end of part 2. Part 3 will be posted soon.