New Delhi: Geetashree Tamuly, wife of Akhil Gogoi, a peasant leader, RTI activist and founder of Assam-based Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), has expressed concern over his “Covid-like symptoms” while he is lodged at the Guwahati Central Jail.
Gogoi was arrested in December 2019 under the amended UAPA (Unlawful Assembly Prevention Act) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) following the anti-CAA protests that had rocked Assam last year.
Tamuly, who teaches Assamese at the B. Borooah College in Guwahati, wrote in a Facebook post: “It’s been a few months. There is no TV in the house. A lot of things stay without knowing. Just saw this on Facebook…Akhil is sick, symptoms of Covid. Don’t know what to say.”
She added: “Many people call and ask me if brother is okay…but what do I know? …This time there is no news, no phone calls.”
“We haven’t been able to meet him since the last two months. Even his family hasn’t been able to get in touch or see him. Somebody from inside the jail premises informed us that he has fever and body ache, and that he isn’t recovering,” Pranjal Kalita, assistant general secretary of KMSS’ student wing Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), told ThePrint.
Kalita added, “Early last month, two inmates of the Guwahati Central Jail had tested positive for Covid-19. So we now fear that the virus might have infected other inmates. The central jail has as many as 1,200 inmates.”
A senior police officer, however, told The Print that Gogoi wasn’t suffering from Covid-19. “Gogoi doesn’t have coronavirus infection,” the officer, who did not want to be named, said.
Jishnu Baruah, additional chief secretary (home and political), Assam, said, “I am not aware of the situation on Gogoi’s health or symptoms.”
ThePrint tried to reach the Inspector General of Prisons, Assam, Dasarath Das, on his official landline number but failed to receive any response till the publication of this report.
‘NIA court had asked prison officials to give Gogoi medical care’
Gogoi has been in jail for over 200 days now. Recently, around 1,200 inmates of the central jail had resorted to a hunger strike, demanding Gogoi’s release. They had also presented some Covid-19 related pleas to the authorities.
Senior KMSS leader Mukut Deka told ThePrint, “He (Gogoi) has been having headache, body pain and fever since 29 June. He had himself told the NIA special court through video conferencing about his illness and lack of proper treatment inside the jail’s premises. His wife and KMSS had also filed a petition before the court requesting appropriate medical treatment on 2 July.”
He added, “The NIA special court had directed the prison officials that Gogoi be given proper medical care. However, it’s not clear whether he has been provided medical amenities or not.”
Deka also said that SMSS President Bitu Sonowal, who was also arrested by the NIA last year, has shown “similar symptoms of headache, body ache and fever.”