Hany Babu, a 54 year old Professor of English Literature and Linguists at Delhi University and an undertrial prisoner in the Bhima Koregaon case, who has been in custody since July 2020 without trial, has tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.
Babu has been moved to Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital in Mumbai, family told Maktoob.
This comes at a time he has developed an acute eye infection in Taloja Jail and has been admitted in JJ Hospital in Mumbai for treatment.
“Prof Hany Babu has little or no vision in his left eye. The swelling around his eye has now spread to his ears, cheek and forehead, compromising other vital organs as well, and posing a significant risk to his life if it spreads to the brain. To complicate matters and create further risk to life, Prof Hany Babu was found to be COVID positive today. I have just been informed (8.50 pm on 13 May) that Prof Hany Babu is being shifted to another government hospital (G. T. Hospital) for further treatment. It is extremely alarming that the infection in Prof. Hany Babu’s eye has deteriorated so rapidly despite medication. This, coupled with the onset of the COVID-19 infection poses a significant risk to his life which requires to be treated at different levels by specialists from different fields,” Hany Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena who teaches in Miranda College Delhi University, said.
Hours after the news of COVID-19 infection, family members and lawyer of Hany Babu wrote a letter to Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Patil requesting to shift him to a multi-speciality private hospital with a speciality Ophthalmology department.
“It is absolutely essential that Professor Hany Babu gets specialised care,” family members including his mother Fathima, daughter Farzana, wife Jenny Rowena, brothers Dr. Harish M.T, Professor at the Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala and Professor M.T Ansari at the University of Hyderabad said in a note.
Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena had earlier accused the Taloja jail authorities for delaying the treatment after an acute infection was developed with his left eye.
Hany Babu was taken to hospital after a huge pressure from the family, lawyer, civil society and political veterans. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also intervened in the matter on the request of the family. Babu’s first consultation at a hospital in Vashi was only on 7 May, a week later after the infection had first developed.
Hany Babu was examined by an Ophthalmologist, prescribed certain anti-bacterial medication, and advised to return for follow-up treatment in two days.
“But Taloja jail authorities refused to take him to the hospital for another five days. Thereafter, he was again taken belatedly for follow up on 12 May and that too only after many phone calls and emails,” Rowena said.
PP Jaseem is a journalist based in New Delhi.