Hany Babu, an undertrial prisoner in the Bhima Koregaon case, who has been in custody since July 2020 without trial, has developed an acute eye infection in Taloja Jail, said his family.
“He has little or no vision in his left eye due to the swelling, which has spread to the cheek, ear and forehead, compromising other vital organs as well, and posing a significant risk to his life if it spreads to the brain. He is in agonising pain and is unable to sleep or perform daily chores,” read a statement released by Hany Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena and brothers Harish MT and MT Ansari.
They also alleged that Hany Babu does not have access to clean water to even bathe his eye and is forced to dress his eye with soiled towels due to an acute water shortage in the prison.
According to Jenny Rowena, Hany Babu started experiencing pain and swelling in the left eye on 3rd May 2021, which soon developed into double vision and severe pain.
“Since the prison Medical Officer had already informed Hany Babu that the prison did not have the facilities to treat his eye infection, Hany Babu had immediately requested for consultation and treatment with a specialized doctor. But he was not taken for consultation, because an escort officer was not available. It was only after his lawyers sent an email on 6th May to the Superintendent, Taloja Jail, that he was taken to a Government Hospital in Vashi on 7th May,” the family claimed.
At the Vashi Government Hospital, Hany Babu was examined by an Ophthalmologist, prescribed certain anti-bacterial medication, and advised to return for follow-up treatment in two days. Whilst his condition deteriorated alarmingly, he was still not taken back to the hospital after two days, once again due to the lack of escort officers, the prison claims.
On 10th May, Hany Babu’s lawyer, Payoshi Roy, made over 8 calls to the prison in order to speak with the Superintendent, who refused to come on the line. At 8:30 pm, the Jailor informed Roy that he was aware of Hany Babu’s condition and was making arrangements to take him to the hospital the next day. As follow-up, Hany Babu’s lawyers also sent another email to the Superintendent requesting that there be no further delay in taking him to the hospital. The email also emphasized the gravity of the situation and that even a day’s delay may lead to an irreversible deterioration leading to partial or complete loss of sight as well as a life-threatening complication if it affects the brain. However, he was not taken to the hospital even on 11th May.
“Through the last few days, we have been beside ourselves with anxiety. The thought of Hany Babu having to beg for something as basic as essential health services is heart wrenching. Even today, we were unable to get a response from the prison, despite repeated calls by Roy,” read the family’s statement.
They also said that they fear that an opaque system will do irreparable damage to those locked up within as well as locked down at various places.
Hany Babu’s wife and brothers requested authorities immediate access to proper medical care and transparency in case of such a serious illness.
“After all, we are only asking for the rights granted and guaranteed under the Constitution of India,” concludes the statement.