Overcrowded jails, delayed medical treatment for his infected eyes and repeated pleas to the court, Delhi University professor Hany Babu, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been fighting an anxious battle away from family in Taloja jail.
Professor Jenny Rowena, Hany Babu’s wife, recalls the tough journey of repeatedly writing to the jail authorities about getting treatment and hospitalisation for Babu since May.
“He has little or no vision in his left eye due to the swelling, which has spread to the cheek, ear and forehead, compromising other vital organs as well, and posing a significant risk to his life if it spreads to the brain. He is in agonising pain and is unable to sleep or perform daily chores. Due to an acute water shortage in the prison, he does not have access to clean water to even bathe his eye and is forced to dress his eye with soiled towels.”Hany Babu’s family wrote in May
Speaking to The Quint, Rowena says, “The jail authorities allowed Babu’s condition to worsen and his infection to spread by delaying the treatment. We have been absolutely helpless.”
Babu was hospitalised on 15 May after his condition deteriorated alarmingly. His family has been pleading to the court to grant him bail on health grounds. He has been charged under the stringent UAPA.
Who is Hany Babu and Why is He in Jail?
A year after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided his Delhi home, he was arrested in July 2020 in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.
Although Dr Babu asserts that he had no role in organising the Elgar Parishad or in the Bhima Koregaon violence that erupted thereafter, the National Investigation Agency says he has been arrested on charges of “propagating Naxal activities, Maoist ideology and was a co-conspirator with other arrested accused in the Elgaar Parishad case”.
Babu, a known anti-caste activist, is part of the 16 human rights activists and academicians arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence probe. The other names include Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, and Gautam Navlakha were arrested earlier in the same case and all are in jail now.
'Overcrowded Jails, Filthy Quarantine Spaces’
Rowena says there is no space to maintain social distancing or quarantine in the jail, even during the pandemic. “They have put 3,000 people in a space meant for 2,000 people. How will you ensure safety anyway? Surendra Gadling, another undertrial in the same case, was made to quarantine in a cell that was flooded. He couldn’t sleep for three days.”
Condeming the NIA charges, Rowena said, “Here were 16 people who were doing good for the society, helping the marginalised, talking of social issues, you have taken them from their sphere of work, their sphere of activism and influence and fabricated a case against them and put them in prison.”
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