Kafeel Khan, an Uttar Pradesh (UP) doctor, wrote second letter from Mathura Jail, where he has been for 157 days now.
Khan is in jail from 29 January 2020 for a speech in which he criticized the government during the protests around the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
He was granted bail on 10 February by an Aligarh Court but on 13 February, the Yogi government in UP promulgated the 40-year-old National Security Act,1980, against their former lecturer and pediatrician.
He wrotes : “I don’t know why I am being punished. I don’t know when I will be able to see my children, my wife, my mother and my brothers and sister. I don’t know when I will as a doctor, fulfil my duties and fight the menace of Coronavirus alongside my brethren.”
“In a jail made for 534 inmates, there are 1,600 people kept with one barrack holding at least 100-125 of us,” he wrote. “There are just 4-6 toilets.”
“People sleep very close to one another so forget social distancing; you are surrounded by millions of flies all the time, You have to keep flicking them away. Even if you stop in between for 5-10 minutes, they rest on your body.”
“Due to the coronavirus, nobody can even meet me from outside. Otherwise they would bring me fruits and that would be good enough to survive on, but not now.”
“With just one attached toilet, 125-150 inmates, the smell of their sweat and urine mixed with unbearable heat due to electricity cuts makes life hell over here: A living hell indeed.
“I try to read but cannot focus due to suffocation. It sometimes feels that I might fall due to dizziness caused by that suffocation. So I keep on drinking water.”
He said it was impossible to focus on anything. “After reading the maghrib prayers, I sit with a novel for a long time, trying to read at least a bit. But all in vain as it is so suffocating that I can’t just explain…
“The entire barrack seems like fish market infused with all kinds of smells including those someone coughing, sneezing, farting, urinating or sweating. Some people snore, some fight, some scratch themselves,”
“Usually the entire night is spent sitting, waiting for the morning.”