Former Delhi MLA and a convict in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Mahender Yadav (70), died of Covid-related complications at a hospital in the national capital on Saturday evening, three days after the Supreme Court denied his family’s plea to grant him interim bail. This is the second case of a Delhi prison inmate succumbing to the virus.
Yadav, former Congress MLA from Palam, was lodged at Mandoli Jail, and had tested positive on June 26. Delhi Prisons DG Sandeep Goel said, “After Yadav tested positive, he was shifted to DDU Hospital. He complained of breathlessness and had symptoms of heart-related issues. Later that day, he was referred to Lok Nayak Hospital. On his family’s request, he was taken to a private hospital, where he died.”
Yadav’s family had shifted him to Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka on June 30. His family had applied for interim bail on June 27 because he was hospitalised in the ICU.
The July 1 court order states the counsel for the petitioner, senior advocate R Basant, argued that interim bail should be granted to Yadav to “enable him and/or his family to take steps in view of his deteriorating health”.
Advocate Samar Vijay Singh, who also represented Yadav, told The Indian Express, “We told the court he is an old man with a lot of health issues. He had acute diabetes, prostate and kidney malfunction, and also contracted Covid. He also needed a knee replacement. His family wanted to be with him and provide better medical care.”
Responding to the senior counsel’s argument, the order states, “There is… no specific indication and/or suggestion forthcoming from the petitioner and/or his family members as to the steps which they wish to take. There is no offer from the family to shift petitioner to any other hospital. There is not even a whisper in the petition that any differential treatment is meted to the patient or to his relatives on the ground of incarceration of petitioner. The application, therefore, cannot be entertained.”
The SC said it was told that he is admitted to the ICU of the hospital where “everything possible is being done for the treatment”.
Serving a 10-year sentence, Yadav was lodged in Jail No. 14 with 30 other inmates, including Kanwar Singh, a murder convict, who died in the jail on June 15 due to Covid. In subsequent testing, DG Goel said over 17 inmates tested positive, but Yadav wasn’t one of them: “The 12 inmates who tested negative were again tested on June 25. A day later, we found that Yadav and two other inmates tested positive. The same day, he was taken to the hospital.”
Yadav’s son Raghuvinder, however, alleged: “Jail authorities and hospital didn’t inform us… It was through other officials that I got to know. I wanted him to go to a private hospital. The authorities took two days to shift him. I met him a week ago and he told me jail officials didn’t treat him well.”
Advocate Singh alleged Yadav and other inmates were infected because of the in-house jail doctor: “Authorities were reckless with healthcare facilities. It was a senior citizens’ barrack, they should have been more careful.”
The DG denied the allegations: “Our doctors always take proper care and follow protocol while checking/screening inmates. Special care is taken of senior citizens. The family was informed about Covid on June 26 itself.”
Yadav was convicted in a riots case along with former MLA Kishan Khokhar in 2018. His lawyer said he surrendered before the High Court on December 31, 2018. In the same case, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar (73) has been sentenced to life by the Delhi High Court.
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