In UP Temporary Jail, Woman Miscarries & Waits 3 Days for Hospital
Complaining of an insensitive administration, Rizwana Begum has only been asking to go back home.
(Update: A day after this story was published, on 14 May afternoon, Rizwana, her husband Muhammad Rafi and the other nine people in her Jamaat from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district were issued passes and permissions to go back to their home. They are on their way home and should reach by 16 May afternoon. The Quint will be in touch till they get home.)
"This is the first time I participated in the Jamaat, I was hoping it would bring me closer to my god and at the same time I would get blessings for me and my unborn child," 29-year-old Rizwana's hopes met a heart-wrenching end when she suffered a miscarriage while staying at Shri Ramswaroop College of Engineering and Management, declared a temporary jail by UP government, in Lucknow district on 9 May night.
Complaining of an insensitive administration, Rizwana Begum has only been asking to go back home.
She and her husband Mohammad Rafi left Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh with eight other people on 14 February. Towards the end of March and early April, when several Tablighi Jamaat members had begun to test positive for COVID-19 leading to a spike in cases across India, they were in Mehmoodnagar in Lucknow. The UP police picked all ten of them, including Rizwana, on 3 April.
They followed this up with an FIR against them on 6 April under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Epidemics Act.
After testing negative for COVID-19 four times at GCRG Institute of Medical Sciences, the ten of them were moved to Shri Ramswaroop College on 3 May with the promise of being allowed to go home a day later, they claim. However almost two weeks later, they are still there.
This story is about Rizwana losing her child and how she was made to wait for three days before she received any medical care in a hospital.
"I have lost my child after being in quarantine for 44 days. The food, living conditions here have been problematic. Getting medicines has also not been easy. I have been under stress since the day we were moved here. I am in a lot of pain, weak and very anxious due to the blood loss. Please let me go home," she tells The Quint breaking down repeatedly. While she suffered the miscarriage on 9 May at the temporary jail, till 12 May night she had not been taken to a hospital for medical care.
3 Hospital Visits, All 3 Refused Ultrasound
On the night of 9 May Rizwana began to bleed a lot from her uterus. As she tried to make sense of the pain, she realised that she was having a miscarriage. "I have already had two miscarriages before. Participating in this jamaat was supposed to give me blessings, supposed to ensure I had a healthy child but this has turned out to be such a scary and stressful time. Please take me home," she breaks down again.
In pain and trying to keep herself clean, those in her Jamaat informed the authorities. However, no doctor came to see her till 10 May evening Mohammad Mustafa said. Musatafa is one of the ten people in this Jamaat, the head of the group as well as her cousin brother.
"Around 4:00 pm on 10 May a female doctor was sent to see Rizwana. She saw her condition, prescribed some tablets and said that she must be referred to a hospital soon as an ultrasound was needed. She said that only the hospital has the apparatus to help her," Mustafa told The Quint.
Another five hours passed and around 10:00 pm at night the ambulance came to finally take Rizwana to a hospital. They went straight to Veerangana Avanti Bai Mahila Chikitsalaya where the authorities said that an ultrasound though needed, could not happen. "Everything had closed down. Since it was late they asked us to go to a government hospital. We then went to King George Medical University hospital," Mustafa said.
Upon seeing them the authorities began asking them where they are from. "When the policemen who had accompanied us said that we were from the Ramswaroop centre, the hospital authorities did not allow us to enter. They said we need to show them our COVID-19 negative reports. We tried to reason with them. We told them we had tested negative four times, but like others in quarantine facilities we were not being given a copy of our report," Mustafa said.
Mustafa said he kept looking at the policemen who had accompanied them to explain to the authorities, but they would not listen.
The Tablighi Jamaat Lucknow head Maulana Anees Nadvi himself tried to get Rizwana looked at, "I called the chief minister's office and told them about Rizwana on 10 May. I was also at the KGMU hospital but the hospital staff refused to listen. They said they will not touch her without a test."
The hospital authorities insisted that another test be done. That Rizwana will have to stay alone in the hospital at night, wake in the morning and get the test done. "It is not our fault that we did not have our reports. Why should then we let Rizwana stay alone in a highly infectious environment when she is already sick? We did not want to do that and we left," Mustafa added.
The next morning on 11 May when the authorities at the quarantine facility got to know Rizwana did not get her ultrasound due to not having reports, they handed it over to her.
"We took the reports and went back to KGMU hospital. This time they said they did not have the machinery to get an ultrasound done," Mustafa says.
After 4 COVID-19 Negative Tests, Pressured to Get A 5th
Rizwana was growing restless, upset and exhausted by the minute, "Firstly they were the ones who asked us to get the reports. It was on the basis of that that they denied treating me, then they said they can not do an ultrasound," she said. Struggling to find a hospital that would do her ultrasound, as she continued to bleed in pain, they took her to Charaka Diagnostics. "Here as well the doctor refused to treat me," Rizwana says.
Explaining why, Mustafa says while they saw her report she said she also had a slight temperature. “They were worried she could test positive for COVID-19 and refused to do the ultrasound." They returned to the quarantine centre without a test and with Rizwana in just as much discomfort, emotionally and physically.
Sheikh Rukiya who is one amongst the ten of them has been sitting next to a weak Rizwana. “She is in a lot of pain and all this moving around is only making her weaker,” she says.
After all this the authorities at Ramswaroop insisted that Rizwana should get a fifth COVID-19 test since she had a slight fever. "We said we did not want it. We said we did not even want the ultrasound anymore. That she will have the medicines that the lady doctor had prescribed and most of the blood had anyway left her body bit by bit. However, the doctors and police together pressurised us and we had to give in," Musatafa says.
While the test was done on 11 May, as of 12 May evening, Rizwana had not got her fifth COVID-19 results or her ultrasound.
In AP's Guntur, Tablighi Members Strive to Bring Them Back
The Tablighi Jamaat district head from Guntur, 64-year-old Sheikh Nyamatullah, called this reporter from Andhra Pradesh and said, "They have never been to jails. They will die. What do I do? I am trying to talk to the collector. From other states we have had no such problem. For example, members of our Jamaat returned from Gujarat, Warangal, Nagpur, Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad. Only from Uttar Pradesh they have acted so ruthlessly with our people. Only in UP have they slapped cases on them and not let them leave even after spending 40 days in quarantine," he asks.
Nyamatullah said that he had already spoken to the Guntur collector who had said that they had done everything they could. "The Guntur collector already sent a no objection certificate to bring back all ten of them in the beginning of May. There is no reason why they should not be allowed to go. We have done everything we needed to," he said. The Quint has seen a copy of this NOC.
Sivareddy Kolli, former mandal president YSR Congress Party, said these ten persons are being treated like terrorists, "These people belong to my mandal. When the Andhra Pradesh government has already issued a no objection certificate over a week ago, why would the UP government not issue the pass to the people of Andhra Pradesh?" Kolli added that he spoke to the ADM Lucknow and DM Lucknow about getting Rizwana urgent care but it was of no help. "They are not properly responding or doing their duties. This is hurtful and unethical. What is happening in Uttar Pradesh?"
The Quint tried to reach out to officials in the Lucknow administration who stonewalled our queries. Lucknow's district magistrate's office asked us to speak to the additional district magistrate (ADM) East K P Singh. Singh said eventhough Ramswaroop College comes under his jurisdiction he is not aware of Rizwana's case and I should speak to Lucknow's nodal officer K C Tripathi. The Quint has called and left messages for Tripathi's comment but he has not responded to us yet. The story will be updated if and when any of the officials respond.
On 13 May morning Rizwana was taken to a hospital after her fifth COVID-19 reports came negative like the four others before. "We had to run around for three days to get basic medical care. Why is this government treating us like this?," Mustafa said while on his way to a hospital with Rizwana.
(The story was updated at 3:40 pm on 14 May after Rizwana and the other nine people in her Jamaat were issued passes and allowed to go back home.)
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