Mumbai

Navlakha kept in ‘deplorable’ conditions, says partner

Gautam Navlakha surrendering before the National Investigation Agency in New Delhi in April.

Gautam Navlakha surrendering before the National Investigation Agency in New Delhi in April.   | Photo Credit: FilepFilephoto

As many as 350 Taloja inmates crammed into six classrooms being used as quarantine facility

Activist Gautam Navlakha, incarcerated in the Bhima-Koregaon case, is being kept in deplorable conditions in a quarantine facility in Taloja for the last three weeks, his partner Sahba Husain said on Sunday.

Mr. Navlakha was shifted to Taloja jail from Tihar jail last month. Ms. Husain said he called her on Saturday and said there are 350 inmates crowded into six classrooms in a school in Taloja. He is sharing a room with 35 other inmates, while many others sleep in corridors and passage, she said in a letter posted on social media by documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan.

“Gautam called me yesterday after a gap of 15 days. He is put in a quarantine facility that runs from a school building in Taloja where new inmates are brought before being shifted to jail ... There are only three toilets, seven urinals and a common bathing space without a bucket or a mug. He said that the congestion is such that apart from the fear of COVID-19, inmates are prone to skin infections too.”

Ms Husain said the activist told her there is no fresh air as they are mostly locked in with no place to walk or exercise, although he manages to do yoga as other inmates clear some space for him. “He said he has lost 2 kg in these three weeks of prolonged quarantine and was wondering how long the authorities would keep him and the other inmates in such inhuman conditions. Taloja jail at present does not seem to have space for new prisoners such as him,” the letter said.

Mr. Navlakha told her all the inmates are completely cut off from the outside world as there is no news flowing in or out of the quarantine facility. “Despite these deplorable conditions that he described to me, he sounded well and said that he is trying his best to manage and not wilt under the sheer burden of this ordeal,” Ms. Husain said.

She ended her post saying, “I do believe that it is important for us outside to raise our voice against this kind of inhuman treatment of a political prisoner like Gautam — and in fact all the other ‘Bhima-Koregaon 11’ currently in jail. You must have also heard regarding Varavara Rao’s terrible and deteriorating health condition inside the jail. The concerned authorities urgently need to look into this and make necessary amends.”

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 6:26:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/navlakha-kept-in-deplorable-conditions-says-partner/article31884848.ece

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