Anti-Citizen Amendment Act activist Shadab Ahmad, incarcerated for over three years in cases related to the 2020 Delhi pogrom, has reportedly developed abdominal tuberculosis. Ahmad is a BCA graduate and worked as a factory supervisor before he got involved in CAA protests and subsequently got arrested for violence in Northeast Delhi.
Three weeks back, Ahmad’s father, Shamshad Ahmad, was on a video call with his 30-year-old son when he complained of pain in the abdomen. The father brushed it off as a minor illness.
But a few days later when Ahmad was taken to a hospital, the doctors examined him and after undergoing radiology scans, the reports diagnosed him with abdominal tuberculosis– a disease that includes the involvement of the gastrointestinal tract, peritoneum, lymph nodes, and solid organs.
Since then Ahmad’s family has been in distress and is appealing for his release.
“He is trying to be brave, he is fine and taking his medicines. if he comes out then we can take better care of him,” His father told Maktoob.
“My son has not done anything wrong, he just took part in the protest. Protest is not a crime. He did not say or do anything against any religion, the government or the nation. There is no evidence of this or any video. Protests are our right. What should I do, tell me. It has been more than 3 years.”
“Ahmad is getting treatment for abdominal tuberculosis at GTB Nagar Hospital. Earlier we applied for interim bail in the high court, and the high court directed us to go to the trial court. Now we are filing in the trial court” His lawyer told Maktoob.
Ahmad, a Muslim activist from Uttar Pradesh, was arrested on 06 April 2020. He was arrested by Delhi police in a case under First Investigation Report 60/20 — related to the killing of Head Constable Ratan Lal.
On 6th April 2020 Ahmad was arrested over an allegation of Delhi pogrom. He used to participate in anti-CAA protests. Shadab Ahmad was working as a factory supervisor in New Delhi’s Jagatpuri before he was jailed.
Human rights activist Amir Sherwani said, “Being so long in prison without a proper hearing of the case is also a violation of their right. He is just an accused. The court must ensure his better treatment and uphold his rights as a citizen. If he gets bail, it would be better for his family who would get to take care of him.”
Globally, WHO and the Union have recommended screening of all inmates to prevent infection transmission, isolation of infected persons (known TB patients), the right of inmates to access medical services, and integration of TB services in prisons with national tuberculosis programmes. However, there is limited evidence about the measures taken or their implementation in a high TB-burdened country like India.
Evidence from a few studies among inmates has shown the prevalence of TB in prisons between 2% to 7.5% and deaths due to TB between 9 to 18% of total deaths.
According to the NCRB report 2021, the occupancy rate in the prison at the end of 2019 was 120.1%, while in 2021 was 130.2%.
The first case against Shadab Ahmad was for allegedly being part of an anti-CAA protest in which Ratan Lal died. After he filed his first bail application, he was arrested on 20 May 2020 in a matter related to FIR No. 59. He is accused as a ‘conspirator’ in the Delhi riots case in 2020 that killed at least 53 people. He was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The police have alleged that the riot in North-East Delhi was pre-planned and the protest against the CAA act, prior to that, allegedly created a communally-charged atmosphere that led to the clashes reported in reported.
However, Ahmad got bail in head constable Ratan Lal’s murder case (FIR 60/2020 PS DayalPur) along with four other people in September 2021.
Shadab belongs to Basta village, Chandpur, Bijnor Uttar Pradesh. His father is a hawker who sells bakery products on his battery rickshaw door to door in his village. He has one brother and three sisters; two of his sisters are married and the third is the youngest of his family.
Ahmad’s Brother who is studying at Aligarh Muslim University said, “We were in tension and were not able to communicate on a phone call from jail with Shadab for about three months after his arrest. As a responsible brother and son, Bhai was earning and running our family and funding my education. But now, through these years, we have become financially and mentally weak. As time passes I am managing somehow.”
“Our situation when Shadab was with us and not in jail is not the same. Now I have to think about earning because I need to support my family. I can’t study further as I am not able to focus. Since this happened we have not been able to celebrate happiness,” he added.