Image Courtesy: thewire.in
Hundreds of protestors from anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) organizations, peasant and student organizations and ethnic groups across Assam to demand the immediate release of jailed peasant leader Akhil Gogoi and other leaders and better medical treatment for them in prison, reported The Wire.
Gogoi has been lodged in Guwahati Central Jail since December 12 after he was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for having a nexus with Maoists, reported The Telegraph India.
“I was very sick for over 10 days but have been recovering slowly since yesterday,” Akhil said while being brought to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) for a health check-up after he complained of severe backache, urology problems and other ailments.
It was only after Gogoi’s wife Gitashree Tamuly filed a petition before the NIA court, did it direct the jail authorities to provide “adequate” medical treatment to Gogoi. It also directed the authorities to get him assistance at the GMCH and even asked the NIA to explore the possibility of an in-patient treatment facility for him.
Gogoi himself alleged that the living conditions in jail were pathetic and the health of many inmates was affected by it. He told reporters on his way to GMCH, “Condition of jail is pathetic and several inmates’ health condition deteriorates during their stay. On February 11 one inmate name Karuna Saikia died due to the lack of basic medical facilities in the jail. He was imprisoned for the last 17 years. Moreover, the quality of food is also poor.”
On March 11, 2020, at least 500 people petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind through the Asom Sangrami Mancha (a new socio-political party) demanding Gogoi’s release, reported The Hindu.
The Human Rights Defenders Alert-India (HRDAI) too had lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) citing serious concern over Gogoi’s deteriorating health. Lodged by the Madurai arm of the HRDAI, Henri Tiphagne and Babloo Loitongbam wrote, “Akhil has been long suffering from severe back pain and kidney related issues and was under constant medical observation at the time of his arrest on December 12, 2019. His health condition, in the absence of proper medical care and treatment, significantly deteriorated and is a serious cause of concern.”
The complaint also read, “His legal counsels went to meet him in the jail on March 2, 2020, but were not able to meet him as he was down with high fever and severe stomach pain and was not in a position to get up from the bed. The counsels got this information from other co-accused in the same case and lodged in the same central jail. Following this, his wife also attempted to meet him in the central jail on March 3, 2020 (yesterday), but given the severity of his health condition, he was unable to meet her.”
They had petitioned the NHRC to direct a team of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, to be sent to monitor Gogoi and preferably provide him medical treatment at AIIMS or a hospital outside Assam.