“Once you’re in (prison) under UAPA, the stringent act, it’s not just the prisoners who are majorly affected, it’s the family also. We don’t know what to expect, except the worse,” said Sahba Husain, speaking to The Quint in light of the row over Gautam Navlakha’s spectacles.
Navlakha, a 70-year-old civil rights activist and former columnist with Newsclick, has been jailed since April under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.
Sahba Husain, his partner, in a statement on 7 December alleged that his spectacles were stolen on 27 November and a replacement pair she sent has been refused to be received by Taloja jail authorities in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. The family informed the jail authorities that Navlakha is “close to blind without his glasses.” The authorities, however, refused to accept the parcel on 7 December, Husain said.
“I lose my sleep when this happened actually. It’s already been ten days since he is without it,” Husain told The Quint.
Earlier, Husain had said that without his spectacles, Navlakha’s blood pressure shoots up due to acute distress as he is unable to gauge his surroundings.
She sent Navlakha a new pair of glasses on 3 December, and upon tracking the status of her package five days later found that it was “refused and returned” with no further elaboration on the matter.
Her packages to him were repeatedly refused in the past due to COVID restrictions in the jail, she said.
Later, after the issue gained traction, the superintendent asked Husain to address the package to him directly.
To which she said, “this was maybe damage control, maybe kindness of heart, which is hard to believe because firstly, it should never have been stolen.”
Intervening in the matter by pulling up Navi Mumbai’s Taloja Jail officials, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday called for workshops to be conducted for jail officials, holding that “humanity was of utmost importance, everything else is subsequent.”
Navlakha is one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.