A professor of language and linguistics at the Department of English at the Delhi University, 54-year-old Babu was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in July 2020. His family has demanded, “immediate access to proper medical care for Babu and transparency in case of such a serious illness.”
TCN Staff Reporter
Delhi University Professor Hany Babu, an undertrial prisoner in the Bhima Koregaon case, who has been in custody since July 2020 without trial, is being denied medical treatment at Taloja jail in Mumbai for an acute eye infection, his family alleged on Tuesday.
In a statement issued by his wife Jenny Rowena and brothers Harish MT & MT Ansari, the family demanded “immediate access to proper medical care for Babu and transparency in case of such a serious illness.”
The family expressed fear that an “opaque system will do irreparable damage to those locked up within as well as locked down at various places.”
“We are only asking for the rights granted and guaranteed under the Constitution of India,” they said.
A professor of language and linguistics at the Department of English at the Delhi University, 54-year-old Babu was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on July 28, 2020. He has remained in prison since. The NIA accused Babu of being a co-conspirator in the Bhima Koregaon case and “propagating” Maoist activities and ideology.
According to the family, Hany Babu started experiencing pain and swelling in the left eye on May 3, “which soon developed into double vision and severe pain.”
Since the prison Medical Officer had already informed Hany Babu that the prison did not have the facilities to treat his eye infection, Hany Babu had immediately requested consultation and treatment with a specialized doctor.
“But he was not taken for consultation, because an escort officer was not available. It was only after his lawyers sent an email on May 6 to the Superintendent, Taloja Jail, that he was taken to a Government Hospital in Vashi on May 7,” the family said.
At the Vashi Government Hospital, Hany Babu was examined by an Ophthalmologist, prescribed certain anti-bacterial medication, and advised to return for follow-up treatment in two days.
The family said that while his condition deteriorated alarmingly, “he was still not taken back to the hospital after two days, once again due to the lack of escort officers, the prison claims.”
On May 10, Hany Babu’s lawyer, Payoshi Roy, made over 8 calls to the prison in order to speak with the Superintendent, who refused to come on the line, the family claimed.
“At 8:30 pm, the Jailor informed Roy that he was aware of Hany Babu’s condition and was making arrangements to take him to the hospital the next day,” the family said.
To follow up, Hany Babu’s lawyers also sent another email to the Superintendent requesting that there be no further delay in taking him to the hospital.
The email urged on the gravity of the situation and said that even a day’s delay may lead to an irreversible deterioration leading to partial or complete loss of sight as well as a life-threatening complication if it affects the brain.
“However, he was not taken to the hospital even on May 11,” they said.
The family said that for the last few days, they are living in anxiety.
The family said that 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 agonizing 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,” the family said.
“The thought of Hany Babu having to beg for something as basic as essential health services is heart wrenching. Even today, we were unable to get a response from the prison, despite repeated calls by our lawyer Roy,” the family said.