Kafeel Khan shot into the limelight as the doctor who tried to mount a desperate rescue effort by procuring oxygen cylinders to save the lives of infants admitted at the BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur, after the hospital’s oxygen supply ran out. But the fame also came at a huge cost. The badly stung Uttar Pradesh government tried to cast blame for the tragedy on Khan and jailed him but a probe absolved him. Since then Khan has travelled across India whipping up opposition to BJP policies and is a rare Muslim face to have emerged among the ranks of civil society leaders in recent times.
Of course, that was until the anti-CAA protests propelled thousands of ordinary, faceless Muslims to also come out and say enough is enough. The imposition of the National Security Act, a preventive detention law that allows the state to hold a citizen prisoner for long periods without trial, against Dr. Khan is particularly egregious. He had just secured bail for alleged hate speech at the Aligarh Muslim University and then came the PSA charge labeling him a threat to law and order.
This is laughable. It beats reasoning how a lone ranger like Khan can surpass the might of the UP state and its police. The PSA charge appears to be guided more by vindictiveness and eagerness to curb Khan’s space for dissent. The misuse of NSA and its variants like J&K’s PSA is worrisome. Those denied of their freedoms by such wanton imposition of preventive detention laws include Omar Abdullah, Chandrasekhar Azad, Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, and Assam activist Akhil Gogoi. These are laws that the state must hold in reserve to use when challenged to an extent that it becomes untenable to preserve public order. By using them frivolously, the government is damaging its own cause.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.