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Sudha Bharadwaj's 3 Co-Prisoners Tested COVID Positive : Daughter Moves Bombay High Court Seeking Release On Medical Grounds

Sharmeen Hakim
14 May 2021 4:14 AM GMT
Sudha Bharadwajs 3 Co-Prisoners Tested COVID Positive : Daughter Moves Bombay High Court Seeking Release On Medical Grounds
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It is said that Sudha Bharadwaj is kept in a barrack with 50-60 prisoners, sharing only 3 bathrooms, with no possibility of social distancing and sanitary co-existence.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj's latest medical report from the Maharashtra Government on a plea seeking her interim release on medical bail from Byculla women's prison. The petition filed by her daughter Maaysha Singh, invoking Article 226 of the Constitution, states that the sixty-year-old Bharadwaj, who has diabetes, hypertension,...

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The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj's latest medical report from the Maharashtra Government on a plea seeking her interim release on medical bail from Byculla women's prison.

The petition filed by her daughter Maaysha Singh, invoking Article 226 of the Constitution, states that the sixty-year-old Bharadwaj, who has diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease and a history of pulmonary tuberculosis, is very unwell.

On August 28, 2018, Bharadwaj was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon- Elgaar Parishad Case for alleged maoist links. She and 15 other civil rights activists and academics face charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on allegations of a conspiracy to overthrow the government.

A division bench of Justices KK Tated and Abhay Ahuja heard advocate Yug Chaudhry's submissions on behalf of Bharadwaj.

He argued that Bharadwaj is kept in a barrack with about 50-60 prisoners, sharing only three bathrooms and no possibility of sanitary co-existence or social distancing.

He submitted that three of her co-prisoners have recently tested COVID positive and Byculla jail has about 40 active cases, as per news reports.

"The ward where she is lodged is a literal death trap," Chaudhry added.

For the past few weeks Bharadwaj has been suffering from diarrhoea, extreme fatigue and constant exhaustion to the extent that she cannot wash clothes or even bathe, the plea states.

The state's counsel, Jayesh Yagnik, informed the bench that Bharadwaj was already scheduled to be taken to Mumbai's JJ Hospital for a checkup in the evening.

Moreover, Bharadwaj tested negative for COVID-19 on two previous, he said.

The HC then directed Yagnik to produce Bharadwaj's report from her checkup at the JJ Hospital before May 17.

Chaudhry also made submissions regarding the behaviour of prison officials towards the family. He said that the family had made 18 calls to the Byculla prison in the past few days, but the warden refused to come on the line.

Instead, Chaudhry said, the officer spoke to the press and accused Bharadwaj of making up stories about her ill health.

He asked the court to direct the state to respond to the allegations in the petition about the poor conditions in prison. However, the court said that prisons were operating with just 15% staff; therefore, such a reply cannot be filed immediately.

The NIA opposed the plea and informed the court that there was no urgency. The court will now hear the bail application on May 21.

Sudha Bhardwaj was taken into custody on August 28, 2018.

Bhima Koregaon Case

The Bhima Koregaon battle was fought between 25,000 mighty Peshwa army and 500 British soldiers, including people from the Mahar (Dalit) community. The names of martyrs in the war are inscribed in the memorial by the British Army then.

The hundreds of people visiting the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon were attacked on January 1, 2018, after violence erupted. They were mainly from Dalit community, and one person died in the stone-pelting.

An FIR was registered regarding the violence the same day. However, there has been no substantial progress since.

Another FIR by right-wing activist Tushar Damgude, filed on January 8, 2018 and was pursued. It was alleged that the violence at Bhima Koregaon resulted from inflammatory speeches held at the Elgaar Parishad conference on December 31, 2017.

The scope of the investigation was eventually widened, with the Pune police claiming retrieval of incriminating documents in the form of electronic records. This included an email written by a certain 'R' to Comrade Prakash on April 18, 2017 talking of a "Rajiv Gandhi-type" operation.

The NIA took over the investigation in 2020.

However, recently Arsenal Consulting, a digital forensics consulting company in the USA, concluded that most of the electronic evidence the police has relied on was planted on co-accused Rona Wilson's laptop through Malware.

So far, 16 people have been arrested in the case as accused — Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap, Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe, Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu and Father Stan Swamy.

Most of the accused in the case were neither named in the FIR over the violence nor present during the 2017 event.


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