Atiq-ur-Rehman, a resident of Uttar Pradesh who was arrested along with Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan last year and charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, has been taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, his family and lawyers told Scroll.in on Wednesday morning. Rehman, 27, has a heart ailment.
Last month, a court had ordered that Rehman will be taken to AIIMS as soon as the funds to shift him come in. Since no action was taken, an urgent plea was moved in the Allahabad High Court on November 18 by Rehman’s uncle Sekhawat.
In October 2020, the Uttar Pradesh Police had arrested Kappan, a freelance journalist, while he was on the way to Hathras district to show solidarity with the family of a Dalit woman who had died after four upper-caste men had allegedly raped her. Kappan was accompanied by Rehman, a member of the Campus Front of India, which calls itself a “neo-social students movement, which aims to empower the campuses by developing a new generation of activists”.
But the Uttar Pradesh Police accused Rehman and Kappan of conspiring to create law and order problems. They have been booked under sections of the UAPA.
Rehman was lodged in a jail in Mathura.
Rehman suffers from a condition called aortic regurgitation. This occurs when your heart’s aortic valve does not close tightly. The most serious complication out of this would be heart failure.
During a hearing on the matter on Tuesday, the Allahabad High Court came down heavily on the police and said Rehman must be taken to AIIMS, Sekhawat added.
“I had moved an urgent plea in the Allahabad HC for him to be moved to AIIMS,” Sekhawat told Scroll.in. “I had said he may die if this did not happen. The judge spoke in our favour. I got a call from jail officials today around 7 am that they were getting in the car to leave for AIIMS and would reach by 11 am or so.”
Allahabad HC gave Uttar Pradesh 48 hours
Senior Counsel Syed Farman Ahmad Naqvi argued for Rehman in the High Court. His lawyer Saifan confirmed the same.
“The Allahabad High Court bench said that they won’t hear the matter on merits,” the lawyer said. “We said we were only talking about the medical plea. The moment they saw the Lucknow court order they got very angry at the state counsel. They gave him an ultimatum of 48 hours to do something concrete and if nothing happened the judges said he would summon senior officials.”
Saifan also said that the judge asked the police how they had money for functions but not to take the accused person to hospital.
Rehman’s lawyer said this would be a case like Stan Swamy’s. The tribal rights activist, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, had died in custody in July.
The Allahabad High Court assured Rehman’s lawyers that they would not let it happen.
Mathura jail superintendent Brijesh confirmed that Rehman was on his way to AIIMS and that they were following the orders of the Allahabad High Court.
A wait of one-and-a-half month
In an order dated October 10, the Lucknow court had taken note of a report submitted by the Mathura jail superintendent.
The superintendent had told the court that while Rehman was being treated in the jail hospital, “the said accused has been [advised] surgical intervention (Bentall Procedure) for aortic regurgitation by AIIMS, New Delhi”.
The order stated that the jail authorities had demanded Rs 2 Lakh and 10 units of blood from the director general of police or inspector general and as soon as it came Rehman would be sent to AIIMS.
Before this, on September 29, the same court had said that he be referred to a “higher/better medical centre for proper treatment”.
The matter came up in court after Rehman’s condition deteriorated while he was on his way to a court in Lucknow on September 22.
His lawyer Saifan said his condition was very serious then. After he was hospitalised in a Mathura jail, he was taken to AIIMS for a check-up, which is where the doctors said he needed the surgical procedure.
His family has been waiting ever since for him to be moved to AIIMS. “He will die if he doesn’t get the procedure, it is the matter of his heart,” his brother Mateen said.
Rehman’s family has been highlighting his heart condition and the need for surgery since August.
In his petition to the Allahabad High Court, Rehman’s uncle said that he had been in unlawful judicial custody since October 5, 2020.
“[He has been] deprived of proper care and medical facilities suited to his health situation, which has aggravated his medical condition to such extent that he may die at any moment,” Rehman’s uncle said.
The petition also stated that if the court does not come to his aid, it might be too late. “He would be resigned to the harshest penalty of all known to mankind, ie, the death penalty without a trial.”
Sekhawat told Scroll.in: “After months of persistence we are glad he is being brought to AIIMS.”