Mumbai: Sagar Gorkhe, one of the accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case, has written to state home minister Dilip Walse-Patil alleging that Taloja jail authorities are discriminating against several accused in the case and deliberately delaying medical treatment to them even though they are suffering from several serious ailments.
In the letter dated May 20, Gorkhe said that he is suffering from backache, severe joint pain and skin allergy. “Despite the court ordering them to be taken to the outpatient department (of government hospitals), jail officials and the medical officer are acting as per their whims and fancies,” he said.
“My co-accused Gautam Navlakha, Ramesh Gaichor, Sudhir Dhawle, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Anand Teltumbde and Hany Babu are all suffering from various illnesses, but deliberate attempts are being made to delay their medical treatment,” Gorkhe wrote.
“Medicines, especially Ayurvedic medicines, brought in through relatives and lawyers are just not accepted,” he added.
Gorkhe has, therefore, requested the home minister to take appropriate action against the concerned jail officials and provide timely medical facilities to those arrested in the Elgar Parishad case.
He has also urged the home minister to immediately stop the scanning of all incoming and outgoing mail by the jail officials, alleging that the scanned documents are supplied to the investigating agencies.
He has pointed out that the inmates are not allowed to seal the letters they intend to send outside the jail, but are sealed after the jail officials scan them. The incoming mail, he said, is opened by the jail officials and annexures and books are removed.
Gorkhe’s letter adds that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the jail administration had started a telephone facility for inmates to call their family members and even the inmates like him (booked for serious charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) were allowed to speak to their relatives and lawyers, after verifying the numbers to be contacted.
He stated that the telephone facility has been stopped recently and when he enquired about the stoppage, the jail officials pointed out an order issued by the Additional Director of Police, Prisons, stopping the facility for the inmates facing charges related to terrorism, Naxalism, inmates who are part of organised crime syndicates and history sheeters.
He has, therefore, urged the home minister to revoke the order and allow the telephone facility for all the prison inmates, irrespective of the charge faced by them.
Gorkhe has also brought out the issue of the lack of a proper waiting area within the jail premises for relatives and lawyers who come to visit the inmates.
His letter states that around 500 persons come to meet inmates of Taloja jail every day and each one of them has to wait for 5/6 hours for their turn, but there are no fans, drinking water or public toilet for the visitors.
“The mulakaat really becomes an extremely inconvenient experience for relatives, who come to meet inmates by travelling hundreds of kilometres,” it added.
The Bhima Koregaon violence case pertains to a conclave of several civil rights organisations held as “Elgar Parishad” at Pune on December 31, 2017, outside Shaniwar Wada.
Vishrambaug police station in Pune had on January 8, 2018, registered an offence based on a complaint lodged by one Tushar Damgude, a local builder. He complained that members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) incited violence by creating communal disharmony.
According to him, the members of Kabir Kala Manch spread hatred through provocative songs, plays and speeches delivered at Elgar Parishad held at Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, which gave rise to widespread violence following the incident at Bhima Koregaon.
Police later conducted searches at residences of various activists and recovered a document titled “Strategy and Tactics of The Indian Revolution” which allegedly reflected the motive of the banned terrorist organization, CPI(Maoist): to seize political power by organising people into a people’s army and by wiping out Indian armed forces through war and establish “people’s democratic state.”
Box: Artificial scarcity and sale of water
Sagar Gorkhe also highlighted that the jail administration has created artificial water scarcity in the jail and inmates are provided only one bucket — around 15 litres — of water every day, though the jail manual provides for 135 litres of water every day.
“Officers have created water scarcity in the prison and indulging in the inhuman practice of selling extra water,” his letter stated. Because of the water shortage, barracks in Taloja jail have become filthy and several inmates, including me, have developed skin-related ailments, he added.
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