Dr Kafeel Khan
With an Aligarh court ordering the release on bail of Gorakhpur paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan in an alleged hate speech case, the district administration has invoked the stringent National Security Act to keep him in custody.
In Mathura Jail, Khan was to be released on bail Friday following directions from the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate three days ago. But the Aligarh administration slapped the NSA on him Thursday, saying he “might cause a law and order situation”.
In December last year, Aligarh police had booked Khan, claiming his address to AMU students against the NRC and CAA instigated riots in the city. The FIR was filed under IPC section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) at the Civil Lines police station. He was arrested from Mumbai by the UP Special Task Force two weeks ago and sent to Mathura Jail.
In an order Thursday, Aligarh District Magistrate Chandra Bhushan Singh said: “It has been noted that the speech by Dr Kafeel Khan on December 12th to AMU students sparked protests on the campus. In the same context, there were protests by women in Shahjamal which continued till 20th December. While bail has been granted, it has been brought to our notice through confidential information by intelligence units and police that there is every possibility that Khan might cause a law and order situation. Hence, proceedings under the (National Security) Act are being initiated.”
The NSA order stated that news of the violent protests in AMU was published all over the country and that Khan had a role in it. The District Magistrate observed that Khan, in his speech, claimed that “CAA will make us second-grade citizens” and that “Mota Bhai” teaches us to be Hindus or Muslims.
Reports were submitted by SSP Akash Kulhary, Circle Officer Anil Samania, SP (City) Abhishek and an officer from the Civil Line police station against the release of Khan following the bail order.
“Since the accused had made statements that were aggressive and had threatened communal tension, it is possible that his release will negatively impact the law and order situation in the district. Hence, keeping in mind the security of the region, Dr Kafeel’s custody is necessary,” they said.
Advocate Irfan Ghazi, representing Khan, said: “It is clear that the administration is trying everything to prevent Dr Khan from being let out. He has been in jail for several days and now that he was being released, NSA was invoked. We will respond to each baseless allegation made in support of the NSA. We have 12 days to respond. It is clearly a witch hunt and it seems that the State administration is behaving like it has personal enmity with Mr Kafeel. We will use all legal remedies and keep fighting.”
In 2017, following the death of 63 children at the BRD Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur, Khan was suspended and arrested. He spent eights months in custody before he was released on bail in April 2018. In October 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government said seven allegations against Khan were still being investigated.