Undertrial with cancer cries neglect

Central Jail, Guwahati

Guwahati, Oct 15 : An undertrial prisoner suffering from blood cancer told the court today that he was being denied appropriate medical care on the ground that there was a scarcity of policemen to escort him to the hospital.
Oinam Moniton Singh, who has been lodged at Central Jail, Guwahati, since he was arrested from Nayanpur in the city on July 1 last year for his alleged links with the Manipur-based United National Liberation Front, told the special NIA court here that he required regular medical treatment and periodical check-ups as he was suffering from blood cancer.
In a petition filed before the court, Singh said he was denied proper medical treatment on the ground that there were not enough policemen to escort him to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital. He is required to visit the GMCH once a week since his health needs regular monitoring.
“There is a hospital inside the prison but the doctors have told me that it is not possible for them to treat prisoners suffering from serious illnesses and to carry out certain medical tests,” he told The Telegraph on the court premises.
Singh, who is in his mid-thirties and hails from Silchar, was diagnosed with blood cancer after a bone marrow test a couple of months ago and needs to undergo medical tests at the GMCH periodically.
Singh has represented Assam at several national-level sepak takraw tournaments.
He is also a referee and a member of the technical board of Sepak Takraw Federation of India. He has also served as the president of the Northeast Manipuri Students Organisation.
“There are several prisoners like me in Guwahati Central Jail who are suffering from serious illnesses but are being denied proper medical treatment on the plea that adequate staff is not available for escorting them to the hospital,” he alleged.
An official of Guwahati Central Jail said the responsibility of taking prisoners to hospital or court lay with the city police, not with the jail authorities.
“For sending prisoners to hospital or court, we send a prior requisition to the city police for escort. But many times, policemen are not available for escort duty because of their preoccupation with law and order duty and VVIP duty,” the jail official said.
The court asked the jail authorities to provide adequate medical care to Singh.
UNLF chairman Raj Kumar Meghen was also produced in court today.
Asked about the attachment of a fruit processing plant in Manipur by the National Investigation Agency for allegedly having been set up with funds funnelled by the UNLF, he told this correspondent, “Even if the UNLF funded the plant, what’s wrong in it? It was set up by a registered society and was utilising locally available fruits for generating income and giving employment to a few persons. They were not making bombs in that plant. Then why seal it?”
He added, “The UNLF has helped quite a lot of people by giving them money and helping people is not terrorism.”
Meghen said the NSCN (I-M) leadership had made a “big mistake” by deciding not to unite with other rebel outfits of the region. “I believe in the unity of the region and whatever differences we may have, we should try to resolve it among ourselves. Otherwise, outside forces will exploit it and weaken our movement.”
He rubbished allegations of the UNLF having links with China as “enemy propaganda” to defame the outfit.
“The UNLF is an independent outfit and our cadres are self-trained, not trained by any other country,” he added.
Meghen, who took over as UNLF chairman in 1998, claimed that his arrest would not affect the outfit. “The UNLF is run by a collective leadership and not by any individual. We have democratic organisation with a set goal,” he said.