Guwahati, November 23, Arup chakraborty: Most of the district jails now most commonly known as correction homes in Assam are running without separate cells for HIV+VE inmates serving short term or lifelong imprisonment against a particular committed crime though efforts are being made by some Jail Superintendent at individual level to keep such cases under isolation in a separate cell.
The HIV inmates are administered ART (Antiretroviral Therapy) treatment by drugs provided by the District Aids Control Society. But this is generally the case wherein a person serving a jail term discloses of his present status but what about those who do not?
A recent investigation into the matter has pointed out to some serious anomalies right from the time after a person is arrested by the police, physically examined by doctors and later after the culmination of investigations is forwarded to jail custody. The point of physical examination during the entire process is about checking physical and mental stability and nowhere is an effort made to check internally through blood samples and diagnosed of severe ailments like AIDS.
This serious disclosure came to the light in the recent ATM Loot case wherein during the investigation one person (name withheld) among the nine accused informed about his condition to the Investigating Officer and senior police officials. He also notified about being under treatment for the last 15 years. Without a moment delay the police forwarded him to the Jorhat District jail to be under the protective custody of the jailor. But the real problem surfaced inside the jail which had to by now immediately arrange for an isolation cell besides arranging for a different set of clothes, utensils, bathroom materials etc.
Talking Jailor Sanjiv Chetia of Jorhat District Jail said, “We are lucky that this time we got to know about the person’s condition and accordingly arranged for his separate isolation and took up the matter with District Aids Control Society for providing ART drugs besides arranging for counseling. As such we don’t have any AIDS isolation cell but we do have one for those suffering from TB”.
The Jailor further informed, “Self disclosure by patients turned jail inmates helps in maintaining a balance inside the jail environment which is often frequented by different persons with different temperaments. There might be some who may find it difficult to mingle openly with such persons and that may directly or indirectly lead to a chaotic condition. People tend to question the reason for isolation of a person who is suffering from inside but looks healthy from outside. And ultimately the truth comes out and a wall of difference is automatically created between the dwellers.”
Amidst the exposure of the story, another startling revelation has come to the light that a woman jail inmate who was forwarded to jail custody for her alleged role in a case of flesh trade with a senior official of a company engaged with oil exploration in Assam, was also suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Jail officials who had later sought her medical report from the place of her origin later got confirmed her HIV status. “But during the time of her custody, the woman inmate never disclosed her medical condition and stayed with other inmates in the general cell. Later she was confirmed of being a professional sex worker.