Release Hany Babu: Professor tests Covid positive, eye infection gets worse

Bhima Koregaon-accused Hany Babu, in custody sans-trial since July 2020, was diagnosed as Covid-19 positive on May 13, 2021. The news came shortly after reports of the professor suffering a dire eye infection in Taloja jail.

Wife Dr Jenny Rowena learnt about her husband’s illness at around 7:30 PM at J. J. Hospital in Mumbai. Earlier, she received a call from Taloja prison, regarding the hospital admissions. However, officials did not inform her either about the diagnosis, treatment being administered nor the time of his admission. The anxious family said they repeatedly asked about Hany Babu’s CT count, vital statistics or any other test-result information, but to no avail.

As such, the family appealed to the Maharashtra government to shift Hany to a multi-speciality hospital with required expertise and facilities, for the best possible treatment in his present condition. They also requested a complete copy of Hany Babu’s medical documents and along with regular updates on every development regarding his health.

According to brother Dr Harish Tharayil, the family is also waiting for official information from the prison and the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

“The thought of Hany having to beg for something as basic as essential health services is heart wrenching. It is abject injustice that Hany should have to suffer repeatedly due to the negligence of state officials. We are dealing with an opaque and callous system which is deaf to our cries and blind to our pain,” said Hany’s mother Fathima.

India’s health sector and citizens are reeling from the force of the second wave of Covid-19. Persons with a high inflammation index, secondary infections, low immunity and co-morbidities are at much higher risk of death, noted family members in a press release. They argued that an ordinary Covid-hospital without a specialist ophthalmology department will be sorely ill-equipped to treat Hany Babu.

Already the undertrial prisoner has little to no vision in his left eye due to the swelling that spread to his cheek, ear and forehead compromising other vital organs and posing a significant risk to his life if it spreads to the brain. Moreover, acute water shortage in the prison compels him to dress his eye with soiled towels, without washing the infected eye.

Hany’s lawyer Payoshi Roy frequently sent emails and called prison authorities. Her email on May 6 resulted in a visit to the Vashi Government Hospital where he was prescribed anti-bacterial medication. However, Hany was not taken for the follow-up treatment two days later “due to lack of escort officers. He was finally taken to J.J. Hospital on May 12 after eight calls and another email by Roy on May 10, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.

“My family and I are desperate that Hany should receive the best possible treatment. We do not want to leave him at the mercy of a system that treats under trial prisoners with such cruel indignity and does not believe that it owes us the courtesy of even informing about Hany’s condition and treatment or that Hany and his family have a right to know and participate in his treatment,” said Jenny Rowena.

After pressure from human organisations like CJP, media and political leaders, Hany Babu was shifted to GT Hospital in Mumbai. But given how his eye infection is worsening her requires specialised care. Therefore, we appeal for his immediate release so that he can receive urgent medical care. Sign our petition to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray NOW!

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