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Indian political prisoners are in good health, have lost families among COVID | Coronavirus News Plague


“Suppose my daughter is in prison for a long time and she never sees me again. As I get older, I probably won’t see them again. ”

Mahavir Singh Narwal said this in November last year, his words being broken.

When the second deadly coronavirus erupted in India earlier this year, a retired 71-year-old professor did not meet their only daughter Natasha, one of India’s many political prisoners.

Narwal died Sunday – awaiting the release of their daughter from prison in New Delhi – after contracting COVID-19 and hospitalized in northern Haryana.

While her father was growing up in a hospital, Natasha rang the bell to request her release to care for her ailing father. But it was too late.

The day after Narwal’s death, the court granted the 32-year-old freedom fighter a three-week warrant, calling him “necessary”, to allow him to burn his father.

Natasha, 32, is one of the few freedom fighters arrested last year under a criminal law that allows for up to 180 days in prison without trial, although she is outraged by human rights groups and international organizations.

The protesters say they are plotting a “conspiracy” to provoke riots in Delhi after organizing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2019.

At least 50 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in a series of days of protests against the CAA in the northeast of the capital in February last year.

Hundreds of people, including university students, freedom fighters, students and journalists, were arrested as a violent Hindu government protested against dissidents across the country, despite a deadly epidemic.

There is no doubt that it has a very dark time on a trip to the Republic of India. Democracy has never been so weak.

Harsh Mander, freedom fighter

Fearing an outbreak of overcrowded prisons, human rights activists and human rights groups have demanded the release of Indian political prisoners, some of whom are in their 70’s and 80’s and are at risk of contracting the disease.

But most of their complaints went unheeded, except for what happens only when prison is in crisis.

“India catches prisoners who are committing crimes like terrorists and terrorists,” political analyst Harsh Mander told Al Jazeera.

“They must have been granted bail for their safety, as well as for other inmates and colleagues. Instead, the government arrested others. ”

Natasha Narwal, in the PPE barracks, performs the last rites of her father [Manoj Dhaka/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]

The relentless imprisonment of freedom fighters has devastated them to the point of death and the suffering of their loved ones, often leading to last-minute mourning and imprisonment.

In their statement, Pasha Pinjra Tod’s Pasha, Natasha agrees, said that even if released on a small bail, “one cannot be happy.”

“The man who is going to burn is tired at this moment: when he came out of prison with a burning sensation in his hands, not the fear of his cold body,” the group said.

‘Ears that cannot hear our cry for help’

On May 3, Hany Babu, a prison rights activist and anti-caste activist, complained of an eye infection that had left him partially sighted, said his wife Jenni Rowena.

A 55-year-old professor at the University of Delhi was arrested in July last year by a senior Indian investigator for his activities in Bhima-Koregaon prisons.

The article deals with the conflict that erupted between the Dalits – formerly known as “unaffiliated” – and groups of Hindu right-wingers in the villages of Bhima-Koregaon in the western part of Maharashtra on December 31, 2017.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has accused human rights activists and students – including Babu, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy, Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde, and Varavara Rao, among others – of having ties with Maoist extremists to the left and plotting against the government. , including “plot to assassinate” the Prime Minister of India.

Dalit Specialist Anand Teltumbde at the Pune police station on February 19, 2019 [File: Ravindra Joshi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]

Many of the prisoners are elderly people who have been bitten in the middle of the epidemic. Their relentless detention has led to serious health problems.

“[The infection] has damaged vital organs and is life threatening if it spreads to the brain, ”Babu Rowena’s wife told Al Jazeera.

Although Babu’s lawyers wrote letters to officials at the Tajola prison in Maharashtra, where he was detained, he was not taken to hospital. Instead, she took him to a local ophthalmologist, who gave him antibiotics and asked him to come back in two days.

But he could not return, his family told Al Jazeera.

Tajola Prison has 3,500 inmates as opposed to 2,124 legitimate prisoners. On May 7, a 22-year-old inmate died of COVID-19 in prison while another was in hospital. Most of the overcrowded prisons in India do not have hospitals.

Rowen said Babu was deprived of access to clean water to bathe in prison. “She is forced to wear her eyes with dirty towels,” she told Al Jazeera.

Some inmates also report abuse and refuse medical treatment.

Swamy, 84, has Parkinson’s disease. He was denied a sipper drinker. Navlakha was denied access to the show. Tembule, 72, has asthma.

Activist Gautam Navlakha speaks at a rally by author and activist Arundhati Roy, right, and others in Kolkata in this photo on April 14, 2010 [File: Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP]

Rowena, who has been in her days of concern since the start of the second COVID-19 wave.

“We are struggling with a careless and unpredictable system that does not respond to our cries of pain,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘The darkest hour of the Republic of India’

On Tuesday, United Against Hate, a development agency, organized an online interview with the families of imprisoned freedom fighters, who had written to the Maharashtra government for intermediate funding, based on coronavirus cases found between inmates and prison staff.

The letter stated: “Most of the detainees are over 60 years of age, have other complications and are more likely to become ill with COVID-19,” the letter said.

“We are very concerned about the medical treatment that prisoners can receive if they develop a serious illness.”

Defender Mander told Al Jazeera that UAPA “is like a blank sheet of paper, keeping everyone in check”.

“All the critics are saying that they are plotting or waging war against India. Trials are not provided and the government keeps these ideas in prison forever. ”

The United Nations has called on governments to reduce the number of prisoners they can in as much as possible.

“Unfortunately, before the Indian government released journalists, human rights activists or peace activists imprisoned on false charges including sedition and terrorism that led to bail,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia’s director of Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera.

Ganguly said the Indian government, using laws such as UAPA or rebelling against the government, is making “the practice a punishment”.

“The application of these laws here is different and illegal,” he said, calling for “human rights activists and their freedom of speech” and “all people who have protested peacefully” to be released.

Mander said the descent into India itself had grown significantly under the Hindu government.

“There is no doubt that it is a dark time in the country. Democracy has never been so weak, ”he said. “It is clear that there are plans to reform India into a country that is very different from what was promised in the constitution.”


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