Murder accused claims he is unwell, no tests done at Arthur Road jailUpdated: May 26, 2020 23:31 IST
Murder and extortion accused Harish Rama Mandvikar in a letter to his family members on May 14 has asked his lawyers and to get an order for him to be tested for Covid-19. Mandvikar said he’s exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 despite being kept in isolation.
Mandvikar is the key accused in the 2008 murder of matka king Suresh Bhagat and has been charged with extortion and assault in more than 10 cases. He has been lodged in Arthur Road jail since February 2020. In a letter to his family, dated May 14, he alleged 10 prisoners lodged in the high security ‘anda cell’ barracks of Arthur Road jail have tested positive for Covid-19 and were quarantined in yard number 10. The ‘anda cells’ were created to house criminals in isolation. Mandvikar is in one of these cells.
This is the first report of ‘anda cell’ prisoners having contracted the infection.
Sunil Ramanand, additional director general of prisons, said, “Dr Rathod of Sir JJ Hospital visits Arthur Road prison almost daily. I will ask him to look into the matter.” Neither Ramanand nor inspector general of prisons Deepak Pandey responded to any other questions.
In his letter, written in Marathi, Mandvikar said, “Ten people in anda cells have tested positive. I have also started feeling the symptoms. I am coughing since the past 15 days, but in jail they do not conduct the test using the kits. There are no kits available. They are just providing medicines. I have severe pain in throat.” He asked his family to get his lawyers to arrange for a Covid-19 test for him and another fellow inmate. “Tell the lawyers to obtain an order for my test and to transfer me to a private hospital and Sumeet Bhai. Both of us are not feeling well. We will not get proper treatment here. Proper treatment will be possible only at a private hospital. Don’t waste a single day. We are in major trouble,” Mandvikar wrote in his letter. He also wrote, “Inform the advocate to at least argue in court so that we can get bail for treatment. Once we are okay, we will come back to prison. Do not waste a single day as we are in trouble.”
A relative of Mandvikar’s confirmed that they had received the letter. “Another relative visited Sir JJ Hospital twice to see if Harish has been admitted. But we could not find him. We are still not clear how to get in touch or arrange treatment for him,” said the relative.
Advocate Prashant Gurav, who is representing Harish, said, “On May 22, a sessions court had given an order for a medical check-up, and to submit a report by May 27. I visited the jail with the roznama and application. But the jail authorities citing Covid-19 did not accept the application physically, and asked me to put the documents in the jail’s drop box.” Gurav said that they had called on a landline number of the Arthur Road prison and also sent an email but did not get a response.