Gauhati Central jail turns Covid-19 hotspot!

Inmate alleges 95 percent of prisoners are infected

central jail

In a shocking turn of events the Central Jail in Guwahati has turned into a Covid-19 hotspot. This was revealed when lawyers of Sattra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS) leader Manas Konwar went to secure his release at around 8 P.M on July 13, after Konwar got bail from a National Investigation Authority (NIA) Court.

In a letter to the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Kamrup (Metro) district, the lawyers; KK Kalita, Krishna Gogoi, Manoj Kumar Deka and Sujit B reveal how they came across this shocking information. The letter says, “We arrived there to hand over the bail order, but we were not allowed to even enter the gate as the entire jail is a containment zone now.” But alarmingly police personnel were allowed to enter allegedly without any thermal checks.

The letter by the lawyers may be read here: 


Shortly after that a bus with around 60-70 inmates left the jail premises and one of the inmates named Dadul Das threw out a letter in Assamese where he describes the condition inside the jail. Das’s letter says, “95 percent of the prison inmates are infected with Covid-19. Not everyone has been tested so far.” Das goes on to say, “We were left for 40 hours despite our positive test results. We were not given any treatment or proper diet. The prison authorities said they did not know anything.”

The inmates grew frustrated and restless and started setting fires forcing the authorities to act. Das wrote, “Today we set fire to the inside of the closed room and are the jail authorities are now sending us for a medical check-up.”

Das goes on to further describe the sordid condition of the inmates saying, “Covid-19 positive and negative persons are kept together inside the prison. Inmates sleep just two feet apart, there are more than 50 people in one room. The jail authority is trying to hide all this.”

The letter by Dadul Das may be read here:






It is noteworthy that last week, two leaders of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) Bitu Sonowal and Dharjya Konwar had tested positive for Covid-19 while serving sentence inside the jail. They were subsequently shifted to Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) on Wednesday and later shifted to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Thursday morning as per East Mojo.

KMSS adviser Akhil Gogoi too allegedly showed symptoms, but at that time jail authorities dismissed claims of him having caught the infection.

Dasarath Das, IGP of Guwahati Central Jail, had at that time told Northeast Now, “Reports of Akhil Gogoi testing COVID-19 positive is fake. Media houses saying that he has been mistreated and has tested positive for the virus is not true.”

Gogoi thus remained in jail, where poor hygiene and absence of social distancing ensured that the virus spread quickly. Meanwhile an initial test result came negative after his swabs were sent to Delhi. But Gogoi’s test reports came positive on Saturday.

Das told The Wire, “It was a rapid test which was conducted on him on Saturday that showed that he is positive. Earlier his swab samples were sent to New Delhi for examination. Those samples showed negative.”

It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court had directed that jails be decongested in wake of the coronavirus crisis to check the spread of the disease. Several precautionary measures had also been recommended by various government authorities. Looks like the Guwahati Central Jail authorities failed to implement these measures.

There is also the apprehension that vindictive authorities may have purposely sent a negative test report to exacerbate Gogoi’s suffering. Gogoi and his comrades have been a thorn in the administration’s side for years now; first for their peaceful struggle for peasant rights and recently for their participation in the movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Meanwhile, Manas Konwar walked out of jail on Tuesday afternoon.



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