Civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, who is in custody at Taloja prison as an accused in the Elgar Parishad - Bhima Koregaon case is “near-blind” in jail his partner has said, after his spectacles was stolen 10 days ago and a new pair she sent, has been returned by the jail.
His partner Sahba Husain who lives in Delhi said that on a phone call made on November 30, Navlakha informed her that his spectacles were stolen on November 27, when he had removed it while sleeping and that he has been facing difficulties without it
“I have lived with him for 25 years. I know it is a necessity for him, those are not for reading, he needs them to see. At night he could fall without them,” she says.
Husain had got a new pair made for Navlakha, who is close to 70, and dispatched it by speed post on December 3. When she tracked the consignment it showed that the item had been “Returned Refused” on December 5. It is now on its way back.
Husain called it “inhuman” and “unjust” that the prison authorities do this to someone Navlakha’s age. She said she had to approach the court to get him a new slipper when his slipper broke and it took two months to reach him.
She has not been able to speak to Navlakha after that call as rules allow only one five-minute call every fifteen days. “Prisoners are the state’s responsibility. It is turning a blind eye to them,” she said.
She said prison authorities had been informed that spectacles will be arriving for Navlakha.
Taloja jail superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar said that prisoners need to take care of their belongings. Navlakha had informed them that he needed a pair of spectacles, Kurlekar said and they had told him to inform the specifications and they will get one made or that a friend or relative of his could get one to the jail. The superintendent said that the prison does not accept parcels for security reasons and denied having received it. When informed that Navlakha's family is in Delhi, Kurlekar said he has a lot of friends and followers in Mumbai and someone could get it.
Husain however counters this and says that even when slippers and clothes were sent earlier through lawyers or contacts, they were sent back more than once.