A four-page hand-written letter by suspended doctor from Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur, Dr Kafeel Khan, has brought to light the deplorable conditions inside Mathura jail where he if currently lodged in.
The letter narrates his ordeal in the jail, that he has referred to as 'hellish'. In the letter, the doctor mentioned, "With just one attached toilet and 125-150 inmates, the smell of their sweat and urine mixed, with unbearable heat due to electricity cuts, makes life hell over here. A living hell indeed."
The letter further read, "I try to read but cannot focus due to suffocation. Sometimes I feel that I might fall due to dizziness. The entire barrack seems like a fish market full of all kinds of smells. People are coughing, sneezing, farting, urinating and sweating. Some people snore, some fight, some scratch themselves."
Questioning his detention, he wrote: "Why am I being punished? When will I be able to see my children, my wife, my mother and my brothers and sister? When will I be able to fulfill my duties as a doctor in fighting the menace of Coronavirus?"
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Adeel Ahmad Khan, Dr Kafeel Khan's brother said: "My brother wrote this letter on June 15, however, we only received it on July 1. Since the time his letter has surfaced on social media and created an outrage, he has been shifted to an isolated place. We are worried about him and his safety."
Talking about the conditions inside the Mathura Jail, Adeel Khan said: "The jail is in an extremely overcrowded and in a shoddy condition. Kafeel has mentioned about the poor hygienic conditions in his previous letters as well. However, no action has been taken. The capacity of the jail is way less as compared to people lodged in there."
"The government has not even increased the capacity of that jail or constructed a new one. The conditions are deplorable," he added.
Mathura jail senior superintendent Shailendra Maitri however, has questioned the veracity of the letter.
"Kafeel denies having written any letter. We screen all the outgoing mails, and did not see any such letter written by Kafeel. And after the lockdown began, no one has been allowed to meet the inmates. So, how did the alleged letter go out?" he asked.
Booked for his alleged inflammatory remarks at an anti-CAA protest at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on December 13, 2019, Dr Kafeel was arrested in Mumbai on January 29 early this year and was granted bail by a court in Aligarh on February 10.
The UP government on February 13 also invoked the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against him, ensuring that he remains in the prison.
"The government comes up with a new excuse every time. They have just been delaying his release. We have written enough letters to the Chief Justice of India as well. However, we never got any reply," Adeel Khan told The Logical Indian.
Dr Kafeel Khan first made headlines in August 2017 when he was accused of the deaths of 30 children due to oxygen shortage in Gorakhpur's BRD Medical college.
He continues to remain suspended from service even though he was cleared of the charges in a departmental inquiry.
In March this year, Dr Khan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for an opportunity to offer his services when the nation is battling a deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
His letter surfaced two days after the prime minister announced a nationwide lockdown to fight the deadly virus. In the letter, Khan also mentioned that the health system of the country is fragile and there is a dearth of doctors in the country.
"India is staring at a catastrophe because of its inefficient health system," he wrote, adding that his medical experience could be useful in India's fight against the coronavirus and urged the PM to take a quick decision on this.
Also Read: "I Want To Serve Any Fellow Citizen In This Grave Crisis": Jailed UP Doctor Kafeel Khan Writes To PM Modi