After Taloja jail’s medical reports showed that academic Anand Teltumbde and activist Mahesh Raut--the two accused in the Bhima Koregaon case--have the exact same height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level, the Bombay High Court has sought an explanation from the prison officials, reported Times of India.
The two had approached the High Court after another accused in the case, Varvara Rao, had tested positive for COVID-19.
The health parameters in the medical reports assume significance especially when the accused are seeking bail on the medical ground. The discrepancies, therefore, raise several alarming questions.
While Raut, the youngest accused in the case, has been reportedly suffering from fever for four consecutive days, the result of his COVID-19 test is reported to be negative. Teltumbde’s report, on the other hand, shows that he has developed antibodies for infection--implying that he had contracted the infection at some point.
Advocates representing both Teltumbde and Raut have disputed the medical reports submitted through the superintendent of Taloja prison and attested by the chief medical officer, said the TOI report.
While Justice R G Dhanuka hearing the case suggested that advocate Vijay Hiremath representing Raut should be happy since his client has tested negative, Hiremath told the court that he is disputing the report.
“It can’t be that both the accused have the same pulse, BMI, weight, height, and oxygen; even the blood pressure is the same. Even otherwise, an antigen test will not show if he suffers from corona, an antigen test will only show if he has had corona in the past,” Hiremath was quoted as saying by TOI.
Advocate Devyani Kulkarni, appearing for Teltumbde, told the court, “According to this report his height is 153 cm and weight is 57 kg. However, his height is actually 173 cm and weight is around 75 kg.”
She added that based on the similarities in these two reports, they would also want writer-activist Vernon Gonsalves’s reports.
The division bench of the High Court has asked the prosecutor to take proper instructions from the prison officials and explain the discrepancies.
The development comes after Varvara Rao, the 79-year-old poet-activist and one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been denied bail on medical grounds repeatedly. The National Investigation Agency had gone to the extent of claiming in the High Court that Rao was taking “undue benefit” of the pandemic even as he has contracted COVID-19, and is showing signs of dementia, among other health issues. In May, after his health worsened, he had to be moved to the state-run JJ hospital. Since then, he has moved from the prison hospital to JJ, St. George, and now at the private Nanavati Hospital.
Among those arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention Act (UAPA), are activists Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Mahesh Raut and Anand Teltumbde.
In an FIR filed in Pune, it was alleged that on the eve of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, Elgar Parishad had been organised, in which noted Left activists and “underground Naxalite groups” had participated. Police claimed that speeches delivered at the event on December 31, 2017, were partially responsible for inciting the violence the next day.
Also read: The Incarceration of Mahesh Raut