Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Ph.D. student Sharjeel Imam, jailed in Guwahati Central Jail for an inflammatory speech at an anti-CAA protest last year and his alleged involvement in anti- CAA protests, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus on July 21.
“Swab samples of Imam and some other inmates were tested earlier, and the results came today”, Inspector General (Prisons) Dasarath Das said.
Sharjeel Imam has been shifted to an isolated ward of the jail. The ward has been turned into a COVID-19 hospital for the asymptomatic inmates.
Imam, 31, is accused of conducting “inflammatory and instigating speeches” against the government on the CAA and National Register for Citizens (NRC) and was booked under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 153A and 505 and UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
He was brought here in January for interrogation and is lodged in Guwahati Central Jail.
Das also mentioned that 435 inmates have tested positive so far, of which 174 have recovered. Three jail staff have also been hospitalized for Covid-19 infection. The wards, he added, are regularly sanitized in order to prevent the virus from spreading.
“Hundred percent testing of the inmates is being done…Test samples of 1,222 inmates were taken, after which some of them have been shifted to COVID care centers and hospitals. As of now 980 are lodged in the jail,” Das added.
The jail has 42 separate wards and 10-15 inmates are kept in each.
“A 200-bed COVID care center will soon be completely operational in the central jail. As of now, the COVID care center is only partially functional,” said senior police personnel of Guwahati Central Jail.
Meanwhile, Muzammil Imam, Sharjeel Imam’s brother, tweeted that Sharjeel has been infected with COVID-19 and claimed only a few at the correctional facility were getting proper medical attention. He claimed over 600 inmates at the prison, where 1,100 people were lodged, were afflicted by the contagion. “Hundreds of positive patients are being forced to live in inhumane conditions inside the jail premises itself. Pray for his health and safety," he wrote.