Behind Bars for Over 200 Days, Activist Akhil Gogoi Reports COVID-19 Like Symptoms

Media reports suggest that Akhil Gogoi’s health has deteriorated severely in the last one week and he is showing COVID-19 like symptoms. A petition has been submitted to the NIA, seeking details on Gogoi’s health.

Akhil Gogoi is president of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti(KMSS). Photo - Wikimedia Commons

It has already been more than 200 days since well-known peasant leader from Assam, Akhil Gogoi has been kept in prison. Akhil Gogoi is the president of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti(KMSS). 

It has been reported that the peasant leader has been keeping unwell since the 2nd of July and has been showing COVID-19 like symptoms. The fact that he has been keeping unwell since the beginning of July came to light when Akhil Gogoi himself complained about his poor health condition. He reported about his health when he was presented before the NIA special court through video-conferencing. He complained of fever, cough and headache and expressed his concern about the possibilities of him being infected with coronavirus. 

Gogoi also took the opportunity to inform the court about student leader Bitu Sonowal ’s deteriorating health condition. The fact that he has been keeping unwell and is showing coronavirus like symptoms has caused many of his well-wishers to fear and become extremely concerned about his falling health and this had also created a widespread debate on the political infrastructure’s lack of empathy for the leader despite a clear indication of his fragile heath condition. 

Citing the coronavirus pandemic as a reason, the jail authorities have gone ahead and prevented his family members to come and meet him in the prison for the last three months and even his wife’s request to meet him in jail has been repeatedly denied.

Utterly distressed and pained, Akhil Gogoi’s mother Priyada Gogoi was completely disappointed in the government for not paying heed to her son’s constant appeal amid falling health and said, “Better kill Akhil. I have no one after his death. And the government will be solely responsible for his death.” 

Geetashree Tamuly, Akhil Gogoi’s wife has been completely distressed about the fact that her activist-husband has been showing COVID-19 like symptoms and yet there has not been any decision by the government to ensure him proper medical care. Gogoi was arrested in December 2019 under the amended UAPA by the NIA following the anti-CAA protests that has rocked the state of Assam last year. 

According to some speculations, jail authorities are fearing that since two jail inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 in May, the infection may have spread to other inmates too. The Guwahati Central Jail, where Gogoi has been behind the bars has as many as 1,200 inmates.  

It was only recently that the inmates of the central jail had gone on a hunger strike demanding the release of Gogoi and had also presented some COVID-19 related pleas to the authorities. 

After informing the authorities while addressing the NIA special court through video conferencing, Gogoi had spoken about his illness and the lack of proper medical facilities inside the jail. 

His wife and the KMSS have also filed a petition before the court requesting appropriate treatment for him on July 2. Thereafter, the NIA special court had made a direction to the prison officials to make sure that Gogoi is given proper medical care but there is no surety whether these conditions have been met by the jail so far. It is also reported that Bitu Sonowal who was also arrested by the NIA last year has been showing coronavirus like symptoms.

 

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