The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has sought the National Human Rights Commission's (NHRC) intervention to provide reasonable accommodation and assistive aids like straws and sippers to tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, who is lodged in the Taloja Jail in Maharashtra.
Eighty-three-year-old Swamy, a jesuit priest, was arrested for his alleged role inciting mob violence in Koregaon Bhima near Pune in Maharashtra on January 1, 2018.
Swamy, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, recently filed an application before a special court, seeking that he be allowed to use a straw and sipper.
In a petition to chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, H L Dattu, NPRD general secretary Muralidharan sought the commission's "immediate intervention" to ensure that Swamy is provided with requisite age and disability appropriate accommodation, assistive aids including straws and sippers, and human care assistance as required.
"Given this condition (tremor in both hands etc.) he has been using a sipper as also a straw for intake of water and fluids. He was carrying these essentials (straw and sipper) with him when he was arrested by the NIA. The NIA refused to hand them back and the jail authorities refused to provide him these inexpensive but essential assistive items. He has trouble eating because of the tremors," Muralidharan said.
"He is unable to take bath, bring water or wash clothes on his own. Stan also has a serious hearing problem and needs hearing aid for both ears. He was operated twice for hernia in the recent past and hence may not be in a position to go through a strenuous schedule as demanded in the jail. He used to take daily steam inhalations too," Muralidharan said in the letter.
The NPRD general secretary also urged the NHRC to send a team to inspect the Taloja jail and take note of the accessibility of the prison premises and the services being provided to Swamy.
"In case these provisions cannot be made within the jail premises and an accessible environment cannot be provided, we request that the commission issue directions to see that he may be immediately shifted to a hospital where adequate facilities would be available," he said in the letter.