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Aid and abet a crime ? for AIDS? sake

Mayank Tewari tells the story of Ramesh, who is now lodged in a prison and awaiting free drugs and good food.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2006 03:31 IST

What do you do when you have AIDS and can’t afford to get proper treatment? You go to jail — by choice. Then, you casually talk about your HIV status and book a comfortable jail hospital bed where you get an assured supply of free anti-retro viral (ARV) medicines.

Delhi is one of the six centres in India where ARVs are administered to AIDS patients free of cost. Also, one needs to take a good nutritious diet — which many AIDS patients can’t afford.

Which is why, on last Wednesday, 24-year-old HIV-positive Ramesh (name changed to protect identity) broke into SBI’s Khayala Branch in Tilak Nagar. He was arrested, and told the police that he wanted “to rob the bank to pay for my treatment”.

“It sounded like a hoax,” says a senior police officer. But actually it wasn’t. Ramesh had, in fact, served time at the Tihar jail a year and a half ago.

“Then too it was his need for medical care that motivated him to commit the crime and get arrested,” says a senior prison official.

Ramesh is now lodged at the Rohini prison — and awaiting free ARVs and good food.

First Published: Mar 26, 2006 01:57 IST