The family members of those arrested in Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case on Saturday claimed they have been “systematically” denied medical treatment and alleged activist Vernon Gonsalves’s condition was yet another act of “criminal negligence” of prison authorities.
Gonsalves, arrested for his alleged role in the case, was recently admitted to the state-run JJ hospital, with his lawyer stating that he had been diagnosed with dengue and was on oxygen support.
In a press note issued during the day, the kin of these arrested activists sought state intervention in the functioning of prison authorities to ensure speedy treatment to all “political prisoners”.
Citing Gonsalves’ condition, the press note claimed medical treatment was delayed and said it was yet another act of criminal negligence on the part of authorities of Taloja Central Jail, where he was lodged.
“Gonsalves (65) had fever on August 30, and even though his condition was steadily deteriorating, he was treated with just paracetamol and antibiotics in jail for almost a week. After much pleading, he was taken to JJ hospital on September 7 and was given oxygen support,” the note said.
“However, instead of continuing his treatment, he was callously brought back to jail where his condition continued to worsen. It is only after his lawyer and wife, Susan Abraham, approached the court and obtained an order that the prison authorities finally admitted him in the emergency ward of JJ hospital, where he is still under treatment,” it added.
The press note cited the recent deaths of several undertrial prisoners, including Father Stan Swamy, after allegedly being denied prompt medical attention.
“It has barely been a year since Father Stan Swamy, also an accused in the Elgar case, passed away while still a prisoner after being denied prompt treatment following COVID-19. Similarly, it was only very recently that we heard the shocking news of the death of Pandu Narote, a 33-year-old Adivasi, in Nagpur jail where he was convicted under various UAPA charges for having Maoist links,” the note claimed.
Narote’s lawyer has also alleged his death was caused due to gross negligence by the prison authorities, the note alleged.
Talking about poet-activist Varavara Rao, another accused in the case, the press note said he too was subject to inhuman treatment in jail where he was denied proper medical care in spite of his age and various serious ailments.
It was only last month that he could acquire a medical bail from the Supreme Court.
Other accused in the case too have been systematically denied medical treatment, the note said, adding that kin have demanded that the state immediately and urgently intervene in the functioning of prisons so as to ensure speedy treatment for all “political prisoners” such as Gautham Navlakha, Dr Hany Babu and others.
“We also demand the immediate release of political prisoners who are languishing in jail as undertrials for years. If the state is incapable of guaranteeing their safety and security in prison, it would be better that the courts intervene to grant bail to these political prisoners so that their precious lives are saved,” it said.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held in Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.
One person was killed and several others were injured in the violence.
The case, in which over a dozen activists and academicians have been named accused, was initially probed by Pune police and later taken over by National Investigation Agency.