Ailing Kajol stuck in jail hospital

Not knowing how ill is his father and whether or not he is receiving proper medical care are now Monorom Polok’s biggest fears.

In the second week of August, he had spoken to his father, photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, on the telephone and learned that his father’s left arm was becoming paralysed, that he was vomiting frequently and at times he was vomiting blood.

On August 10, his lawyer petitioned Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court to transfer Kajol to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College University (BSMMU) for a checkup and treatment.

Metropolitan magistrate Rajesh Chowdhury heard the prayer and instructed the jail authorities to provide Kajol treatment according to the Jail Code, reports our court correspondent.

The court did not specify which hospital Kajol should be taken to.

Kajol spoke with his wife at the end of last week, and repeated his earlier statement — his health is failing and he is not doing well.

The Dhaka Central Jail authorities said that they have received the court directives of taking necessary steps to ensure Kajol’s treatment, but he cannot be treated outside jail at the moment because of the pandemic.

“The court has ordered that steps be taken for his treatment. There is a hospital inside the jail and he has been receiving treatment there,” Mahbubul Islam, jailer at Dhaka Central Jail, told The Daily Star on Saturday night.

Asked if he would get treatment in a hospital outside the jail, Mahbubul said, “You can understand the situation now. There is no scope to admit anyone at hospitals outside because of coronavirus. If there is any major health problem and if the jail doctor thinks, only then can we think about it.”

Asked about Kajol’s health condition, the jailer said he could not comment as only the doctor can talk about it.

Dhaka Central Jail has two doctors. Mahmudul Hasan Shuvo, the chief doctor, told this newspaper that he was infected with coronavirus and is currently on leave.

“I don’t know any updates about journalist Kajol,” he said.

Sources in the jail told this correspondent that there is also a shortage of prison guards as many are infected with Covid-19 and as a result, providing the logistic support necessary for transporting inmates would be difficult.

One of the prisons guards, wishing not to be named, said, “Earlier, 15-20 inmates used to take treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital per day. But today [Saturday], there are only two inmates admitted there. Only the inmates with major problems are now sent outside the jail to be treated.”

Senior superintendent Iqbal Kabir Chowdhury refrained from commenting on the issue citing departmental restrictions on talking to the media.

Meanwhile, expressing deep concern over the jail authorities’ slackness, rights body Ain O Salish Kendra said despite getting instructions, prison authorities have not yet taken any action for the better treatment of Kajol.

Kajol has been kept in jail for almost three months even though there is a pandemic, and it is evident from the jailer’s comments to the media that they have not given the court directive importance, despite Kajol’s deteriorating physical condition, the statement added.

The rights body demanded immediate medical treatment and release of the imprisoned journalist.

Yesterday, artists and activists joined in a protest at the Central Shaheed Minar, demanding Kajol’s release.

Fifty-three days following his disappearance after leaving his office in Dhaka’s Hatirpool, Kajol was found by Border Guard Bangladesh in Benapole on May 3. He was then arrested, initially on charges of trespassing, but was granted bail by a Jashore court.

However, that same evening he was shown arrested under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure after police informed the court that three more cases under the Digital Security Act against Kajol were pending with different police stations in the capital.

The court then sent him to Jashore Jail. Later, he was moved to the jail in Keraniganj. 


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