Family members of all the accused in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case have written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, requesting him to release them in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter has been written by blood relations of all the 15 accused — advocates Arun Ferreira, Surendra Gadling, Sudha Bharadwaj; professors Shoma Sen, Hany Babu; and Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy, Vernon Gonsalves, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap. They are lodged at Taloja Central Jail and Byculla District Jail.
The appeal said, “Our anxieties have intensified on learning about the death of a Taloja jail inmate due to COVID-19 following the delay in provision of medical attention. Another news report in the recent times indicated that eight staff members at the Taloja jail had tested positive for COVID-19 and 40 such cases had been confirmed in the Byculla prison.”
The note said they were increasingly worried about the medical assistance that would be available to the prison inmates should they contract the deadly disease.
“Many of the undertrials are over 60 years, with co-morbidities and are susceptible to rapid deterioration of health in the event of COVID-19 infection. Although vaccination is believed to reduce the lethality of the infection, it is seen that only four of the detainees — Mr. Navlakha, Mr. Gonsalves, Ms. Bharadwaj and Ms. Sen — have received a single dose of the vaccine as of last week of April,” the letter said.
The letter further said that physical meetings had been stopped due to the pandemic and phone calls were allowed once in 10 days for four to five minutes. It urged the CM to recommend the high-powered committee constituted to release undertrials in the wake of COVID-19 to also release them on interim bail.
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