By Sandhya Jain on February 1, 2013
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, in jail for the past five years without any case of ‘Hindu terrorism’ being made out against her, has refused to take medical treatment for cancer unless released on bail.
In a letter to the Registrar (Judicial), Mumbai High Court, on January 17, 2013, forwarded through the Superintendent Central Jail, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, where she is currently lodged in connection with another case, she said she has decided to live with all her diseases and would perform ‘Yoga and Pranayam’ for remainder of her life and not take any treatment while in jail custody. Denying that this was a voluntary decision, she said it was the consequence of all the restrictions placed upon her and their adverse effects on her health.
Pointing out that she is a hermit who has lived a selfless and disciplined life, she said her confinement in jail ‘without any reason’ has denied her the freedom necessary to live her kind of life, and has disrupted her daily schedule, characteristics and values of life. It is simply not possible to live a life of hermit in jail. She said only if released she would “undergo treatment without any restrictions and may achieve good health and shall lead a life of hermit”.
She urged the court to consider her life and the life of a hermit in the context of Indian culture, and see if there is any provision in law, or judicial discretion, by which she can be granted bail as she is only a suspect in a case (Malegaon bomb blast of 2008). Pledging innocence of any crime, the Sadhvi said she had always lived the life of a nationalist and abided by the Constitution; she has no past criminal record and was wrongfully accused by the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
The Sadhvi claimed she was writing this appeal after some people visited her in jail on January 16, 2013, and showed her a copy of the order passed by the Mumbai High Court offering to grant her ‘choice of place for getting treatment in relation to ill health’. Expressing gratitude for the judge’s sensitivity and concern for her health, she urged the court to understand her mental condition and feeling of helplessness.
Recalling the case, she said that on October 7, 2008, she received a call from E Sawant of the ATS, who asked if she could please come down to Surat to give information regarding a bike (motorcycle). Accordingly, she went to Surat on October 10, and informed E Sawant that she had arrived.
At midnight the same day (October 10, 2008), E Sawant and some of his colleagues took her to the ATS office at Kala Chowki, Mumbai, on the pretext of presenting her before senior officers. She was kept in illegal detention for 13 days and subjected to horrific mental, physical and vulgar torture. In spite of being a woman, she was encircled by senior police officers and beaten with belts, thrown on the floor, abused in un-parliamentary language and made to hear a vulgar CD. The ATS continued this torture day and night.
Sadhvi Pragya said that on October 15, the ATS officers took her to Rajdoot Hotel and tortured her, so much so that the membranes of her lung and stomach were ruptured. As she fell unconscious and was unable to breathe, she was admitted to a private hospital, Shushrusha. The report of the hospital mentions the rupture of membranes. Sadhvi Pragya said she could show the court the place when directed. After two days at Shushrusha, she was shifted to a large hospital and kept on ventilator for five days.
After this brief respite, she was taken back to the office of E Sawant at Kala Chowki and tortured. Then she was taken to Nashik at night and her arrest officially recorded after 13 days. By then she had not eaten for many days and had developed an “unstable state of mind” due to the torture. In this state of unconsciousness, her saffron clothes were removed and a salwar suit put on.
Sadhvi Pragya complained that she was illegally subjected to narco analysis, and polygraph and brain-mapping tests without court permission. These tests were again conducted after showing her arrest on record. As a result of the “inhuman torture”, she developed serious backbone and other problems and is unable to walk, sit and stand on her own. She is mentally disturbed and her power to tolerate (pain) is fading.
In her fifth year in jail, she was given eggs as her food to destroy her ‘satvikta’ (purity). As a result of overall negative environment she succumbed to other serious ailments as well. Regarding the cancer, she is unable to take the diet prescribed by the doctors.
Due to her multiple problems, the court ordered medical treatment and she was taken to JJ Hospital and an Ayurvedic hospital where only papers were prepared but no treatment was offered. In 2009, she had a breast operation, but again developed pain in 2010. She was in Central Jail, Nashik, when the MCOCA case against her was dropped. Thereafter she was sent to the district hospital under court orders where a special team was constituted which advised an operation; but she was brought back to Mumbai on charges under MCOCA.
As her condition became critical, the court ordered medical treatment and she was admitted to JJ Hospital, Mumbai, and Ayurvedic Hospital, Mumbai. But again only formalities were completed and no treatment given. Throughout her hospitalisation, the police security guards used to trouble her and she even reported this to the learned judge on several occasions.
Currently in Central Jail, Bhopal, since March 2012, her condition deteriorated sharply, but when sent to hospital, again the police troubled her. So she returned to jail without treatment, as had already happened several times. Tired of five years of maltreatment, she has decided she will no longer seek medical help for her condition.
It may be pertinent to recall that on October 19, 2012, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir personally headed the bench that granted bail to journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmed Kazmi who was arrested on March 6 in the Israeli diplomat car attack case. In that case, as in the case of Kanimozhi and other accused in the 2G scam, the apex court upheld bail as a right. It remains a mystery why bail continues to elude Sadhvi Pragya and other accused in the Malegaon 2008 case even though the prosecution has completely failed to make a case that it can even present to the court.