Indian authorities ‘deny’ timely medical aid to activist writer Gonsalves

By our representative
Civil rights network Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD) said it was “distressed to learn” that authorities are failing to provide adequate medical care to incarcerated 65-year-old activist, poet and writer Vernon Gonsalves since 2018 at Bhima Koregaon/Elgar Parishad case.
In a statement, MRSD, an umbrella group of 40 more voluntary organizations, said Gonsalves began to develop several symptoms, such as fever, cough, dizziness and nausea from August 30.
“However, his condition was neglected and it was only after many pleas that he was finally taken to JJ Government Hospital on September 6,” he said, adding: “Instead of continuing his treatment there, he was taken back to prison the same day.
According to MRSD, “After hearing about this from other co-defendants, Gonsalves’ lawyers and family members petitioned the NIA court to seek temporary bail on medical grounds. During the hearing, lawyers told the court that apart from dengue, he could also be suffering from pneumonia.
“It is appalling that despite this, he has not received adequate medical care from the authorities, which has further worsened his health. It was not until after the bail hearing on September 7 that he was admitted to JJ Public Hospital. Gonsalves has since been put on oxygen,” the statement read.
“Notably, his condition deteriorated in prison,” MRSD said, adding, “At first, he was given paracetamol and erythromycin without examination. With no improvement and recurrent fever and cough, on the fourth day, at the request of co-defendant Sudhir Dhawale and other fellow inmates, he was given an injection and antibiotics and sent back to the barracks.
“The fever still has not subsided and on the fifth day there was nausea, weakness and dizziness. Also until then, no examination had been carried out, “said MRSD, recalling how earlier, of the 16 people arrested in the same case, “Jesuit priest Stan Swamy died in a Mumbai hospital while in custody, due to gross delay and negligence on the part of prison authorities to provide medical care and treatment “.

Denial of timely medical care is against international human rights guidelines

He added: “Several others have fallen ill or delayed medical help for a persistent medical condition. Two other defendants, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao, are currently out on bail. The latter, who is on medical bail, also suffered medical neglect in prison and delayed treatment during the pandemic.
According to the MRSD, “activists, academics and lawyers incarcerated in this case were arrested in several rounds, starting in June 2018, months after mobs carrying saffron flags attacked Dalit-Bahujans who had gathered in Bhima Koregaon for his bicentenary. Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
He added: “The denial of timely medical treatment and care not only to these defendants, but to several others, indicates the callous attitude of prison authorities and state governments, which contravenes national and international guidelines on human rights and individual dignity”.
Besides Gonsalves, the other defendants detained are Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap.
Demanding that Gonsalves receive appropriate and timely medical care, including all required tests and examinations, MRSD said: “We also demand that his family and lawyers be regularly informed of his state of health and provide access to health professionals. hospital health to monitor his condition.
“We further demand that activist Vernon Gonsalves be immediately released on bail for medical reasons,” he insisted, adding: “All prisoners who suffer from health problems must be released on bail because neither the prison nor are public hospitals equipped to deal with emergency medical situations.