Bangladesh’s jailed VIPs suffering from multiple diseases

April 5th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by admin  


Dhaka, April 5 (IANS) The Bangladesh government has a problem on hand with most of the 110-odd high-profile officials and businessmen caught during an anti-corruption drive suffering from multiple health problems. An estimated 87,000 people were caught during the anti-graft drive, now into its 15th month, and the choking of jails has caused problems of health and hygiene.

The treatment provided to VIPs is often at the cost of ordinary prisoners who suffer for lack of doctors and other medical staff in jails.

Many of the VIPs sent to hospital for treatment have been recalled with punitive measures added to their jail terms, for using cell phones and iPods, not allowed under the jail laws. Out of the over 110 such detainees, more than 60 have multiple diseases and 10 of them are now undergoing treatment at various hospitals.

Many of the VIP detainees have been suffering from diabetes and hypertension. Four have haemorrhoids, one has hydrocele, while the others have heart, backbone, kidney, eye, ear, tooth and nose problems.

Brig Gen Zakir Hassan, inspector general of prisons, told The Daily Star newspaper: “Most of the VIPs demand better treatment facilities inside the jails. About 60 former ministers and MPs, and 50 other VIPs including businessmen and high-officials are now imprisoned in different jails.”

Sixty-seven jails across the country now have only 77 doctors for around 87,000 prisoners - over three times their maximum capacity. The Dhaka Central Jail alone has about 9,500 prisoners against its capacity of 2,682.

Col M. Ashraful Islam Khan, additional inspector general (prisons), said: “The jails need more doctors and hospitals as most of the prisoners are either physically or mentally sick. They are vulnerable to diseases due to mental pressure, lack of proper food and various other reasons.”

Hassan said: “Among the high-profile prisoners is former prime minister Khaleda Zia. Although 62 and ailing with arthritis, she has so far not sought any kind of medical treatment.”

But both her sons, also in jail, have sought treatment for various ailments. Zia’s elder son Tarique Rahman is suffering from back pain due to spondylitis and younger son Arafat Rahman Koko from heart disease.

Another former prime minister and Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, has collapsed in court once and constantly complained of not receiving proper medical treatment in jail.

Media reports said she might be released on parole and allowed to go to the US for treatment of her eye problems, high blood pressure, and a damaged ear.

Awami League general secretary Abdul Jalil, who was released on parole and sent to Singapore March 1 for treatment, has high blood pressure as well as kidney and heart diseases.

Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Maj. Shamsul Haider Siddique said: “Although at present a total of 10 VIP detainees are admitted (in city hospitals), we had admitted at least 35 high-profile detainees to different hospitals at different times earlier.”

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