The National Security Act (NSA) has been enforced on Dr Kafeel Khan, who was jailed in 2017 after 60 children died at a Gorakhpur hospital due to a shortage of oxygen supply. He was acquitted later. The NSA was imposed after he was arrested for giving a speech at Aligarh Muslim University. His speech was about the protests against the CAA and NRC.
In its order, the Aligarh district magistrate said the speech was a “precursor” to the rampant violence and stone-pelting that the campus witnessed on 15 December. Khan was arrested by a UP Special Task Force in Mumbai on 29 January.
Dr Kafeel had no intention to turn himself into an activist and was working as a practicing doctor. Then, a tragedy shook the entire nation.
The Indian middle class feels proud about us heading towards being the next “Vishwa Guru” (global leader), but the death of 60 children due to basic needs like oxygen exposes the tall claims.
In August 2017, it had become a major issue for the newly-formed government of Yogi Adityanath who took office five months prior to this incident. The state government suspended Khan, blaming him directly for the tragedy. The entire biased media coverage declared Dr Kafeel solely responsible for the death of the children. All this time, we can assume that he was exposed to the broken system of our nation. Sympathies started pouring in from other social activists in his support. In this course of time, many social activists reached out to him from Aligarh, JNU and Jamia.
When the anti-CAA-NRC protests broke off, Dr Kafeel, who had already experienced the broken system, decided to join the protest site organised by student activists of Jamia and Aligarh. Both universities were the center of the protests, apart from Shaheen Bagh. These were the same student activists who stood with him during his hard times when he was held responsible for the corruption in the medical sector.
Dr Kafeel can be seen in many viral videos where he is working with poverty-stricken people to give them medical services. By decoding the incidents, we can assume that he is a practicing Doctor, but circumstances and the plight of people turned him into an activist.
In the history of this century, we also know of another doctor who turned into an activist by the force of circumstances and later turned into a revolutionary. In 1952, a semester before Ernesto Rafael was about to complete his medical degree, he and his older friend Alberto Granado, a biochemist, left Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, to travel across South America.
In the middle of their journey, they worked for a leper colony in Peru for three months, just like Dr Kafeel can be seen working with slum inhabitants who are affected by floods in many viral videos. The main purpose was initially fun and adventure for both medical students. They desired to see as much of Latin America as they could, more than 14,000 kms (8,700 mi) in just four and a half months on their motorcycle.
But the entire journey exposed them to the system and the disparity of resources in Latin America. Both the students, in their journey, witness the poverty of the indigenous peasants. But it was when they reached the mountain of Machu Picchu of Peru that the medical student Ernesto Rafael got to see the ruins of civilization.
His musings are then somberly refocused on how an indigenous civilization capable of building such beauty could be destroyed by the creators of the nearby urban elite city of Lima. Lima is the present capital and the most urban city in Peru.
In the case of Dr Kafeel and many other such activists who are fighting against the CAA and NRC, got a similar sense of despair when they witnessed the Jamia University’s library being destroyed by the police. This incident is symbolic to the urban elite city of Lima, which was the reason for the destruction of Machu Picchu or let’s say the Jamia Library.
On his journey, Ernesto Rafael once swam across the river to reach the leper’s colony, which was separated from the other colonies because of a river flowing between them. People living on the other side of the river were unable to get any medical help and services. Ernesto Rafael took the risk even though he had Asthma.
We can see that Dr Kafeel has risked his life and is still vocal about the cause without being bothered about the possibility of getting infected with Coronavirus in jail.
At the end of his journey, Ernesto Rafael celebrated his birthday in the same colony. A medical student with no political ideology was made into an activist due to circumstances. He gave his first political speech on his birthday. This is similar to Dr Kafeel’s speech at Aligarh University because of which he has been put behind bars.
After his journey ended, Ernesto Rafael returned back to a medical university and completed his studies in medicine and joined the uprising against the Batista regime in Cuba.
Ernesto Rafael is well known around the world by the name “Ernesto Che Guevara”, who was later assassinated by the CIA for his revolutionary role.
The above references of the events are taken from the memoir written by “Che”, published by the name Motorcycle Diaries.