Activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s health is deteriorating in prison

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Mumbai: The health of lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj has been deteriorating in Byculla prison where she is lodged, her family and friends said on Friday.

Bharadwaj had requested a medical evaluation two weeks ago, her family members who spoke to her on phone, told Indian Express. Apart from her regular diabetes, she has been suffering from diarrhoea and loss of appetite, among other health complications.

The health issues accrued after she took her first dose of vaccine three weeks ago. “At first she thought it was the side effects of the vaccine, but after the symptoms continued, she requested for a medical check-up,” close family friend Smita Gupta said. 

She added that Bharadwaj had informed her daughter and her lawyer of her deteriorating health. Speaking to The Hindu, Bharadwaj’s daughter Maaysha said: “My mother told me that she had even written to the superintendent of Byculla jail about her health. Her letter requested him to take her to JJ Hospital for a thorough body check-up but to no avail.”

A prison official said that Bharadwaj suffers from various illnesses for which prolonged treatment is required. “We are giving her the treatment she requires, including taking her to the hospital as and when needed.

But, Sadanand Gaikwad, superintendent of Byculla jail told The Hindu: “Ms. Bharadwaj keeps complaining. She has no body ache, no diarrhoea. She resorts to these gimmicks to get bail.”

The women’s cell of the Byculla prison, where Bharadwaj is lodged, reported over 40 new COVID-19 cases in April. Jail officials, however, said that Sudha Bharadwaj had tested negative last week.

Bharadwaj is lodged in the women’s cell of the prison, in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, for over three years now. Several bail petitions have been repeatedly squashed by the courts.

Born in the United States to Indian economist parents, Sudha Bharadwaj renounced her US citizenship, earned a degree in Mathematics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur to become a dedicated civil rights activist and a trade union lawyer and diligently worked for the poor and marginalized. Professor Bharadwaj focused on protecting the rights of Adivasi (indigenous) people in the state of Chattisgarh.