Sunday, June 16, 2024

He could be next Stan Swamy: UAPA prisoner’s life-threatening ailment remains untreated

Atiq Ur Rahman

“We witnessed the passing away of Father Stan Swamy in custody. Now, Atiq Ur Rahman, a student leader suffering from a serious heart condition face negligence  even in the midst of a life-threatening disease, reveals failure of our democratic society as well as the rule of law,” the NCHRO said in a statement, calling for the immediate release of UAPA accused student leader Atiq Ur Rahman.

For the past 10 months, Atiq has not received any treatment for his condition or had access to the permanent medications that he has been consuming since childhood, Mateen- Atiq’s brother told Maktoob.

He was arrested in October 2020 along with three others- journalist Siddique Kappan, Campus Front of India (CFI) office-bearer Masood Ahmad and the cab driver Mohammad Alam while they were on their way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the rape and killing of a Dalit woman by upper-caste Hindu men which had triggered nationwide outrage and to visit the family members of deceased.

They were booked under various sections of the IPC, but these charges were dropped by a Mathura court on grounds that the police failed to complete the inquiry against them within the prescribed period. However, all of them remain in jail due to charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Condition could result in heart failure

Atiq suffers from Aortic regurgitation- a cardiac problem that develops when the aortic valve in the heart does not shut securely enough. Heart failure is the most dangerous consequence that might occur as a result of this condition. He has visited hospitals in Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Aligarh, and AIIMS in Delhi, seeking treatment for this condition. 

“A month before his arrest, an AIIMS doctor had advised him to have a Bentall procedure to replace his aortic valve. That’s why we filed a plea for him to be released on interim bail for 60 days so he could get the surgery done,” Mateen says.

Medical plea dismissed

“The first application seeking better treatment for his heart illness was filed in December 2020 but was not followed or implemented by the jail superintendent. The next application seeking to refer Atiq to AIIMS Delhi was filed in March 2021, but was of no avail despite the court’s order,” Advocate Saifan told Maktoob. 

The lawyers then moved a plea seeking 60 days parole for him to get his surgery at AIIMS but it was rejected by a Mathura court.

The police had submitted in court that he was getting adequate medical attention. The court order from June 2021 states, “The police have said that the accused has been taken to Agra and is being treated in the district hospital. Presently his health is satisfactory.”

Advocate Saifan says that the medical facilities are not adequate in Mathura. “Despite their statement, they have taken him to hospitals in Mathura and Agra many times. Sometimes urgently and in the middle of the night. This is in the records.” 

The Bombay HC while hearing a petition seeking immediate medical treatment and interim medical bail for lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, had said, “In our view, a prisoner has the right to medical records under Article 21. All medical records, including the tests conducted and medicines prescribed, can be given to the petitioner. We go a step further to say that this order should apply to all prisoners,” the court said. 

‘Arrested because he is Muslim’

“Why are all the accused charged with UAPA, Muslim?” Mateen asks. “Many other prominent individuals, political leaders and activists had visited Hathras to show their solidarity. However, only eight Muslims who did not even reach the location were arrested,” Mateen says adding that “this is a targetted attack to suppress voices and representation of the Muslim community.”

In June 2021, Atiq’s plea for interim bail was rejected. 

He was pursuing his PhD from Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Meerut and a student leader from the Campus Front of India (CFI). According to Mateen, he was travelling to Hathras to help ensure the family gets justice and their voice is heard.

“Charging him under UAPA does not make sense. This was deliberate targeting and he is in jail for a fake case in a crucial health condition. We are extremely worried and anxious.” Mateen adds. 

Rushda Fathima Khan
Rushda Fathima Khan
Rushda Fathima Khan is a journalist based in Bengaluru.

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