Nearly 26 days after terror accused Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal started his hunger strike at Arthur Road prison in Mumbai, his family said the alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba handler’s health was failing and that he was now too weak to even stand for his trial via video-conference.
“Not even animals are treated in this manner,” said Ansari’s mother, Rehana Begum (63), referring to his solitary confinement cell, reportedly the windowless high-security room where 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was kept before his execution.
“Qabar se bhi battar hai (It’s worse than a grave),” she added.
On August 5, Ansari started his hunger strike to press authorities to move him out of solitary confinement and allow him to mingle with other under-trials.
Ansari, arrested in 2012 following his deportation from Saudi Arabia, was facing trial in the 2008 Aurangabad arms haul case. He will also be tried in a Delhi court where he has been chargesheeted by the NIA for allegedly recruiting men for LeT to carry out terror attacks in India.
The trial in the NIA case — where he will appear via video conferencing — is scheduled to begin in September.
After meeting her 35-year-old son in jail on August 21 , Rehana said: “Nothing has been established or proven in court. Why torture him without giving him access to people or sunlight or fresh air before he is tried.”
Speaking to The Indian Express from her home in Maharashtra’s Beed, Rehana added that when she met her son in jail he was too frail to stand and was being administered an intravenous drip.
“I cannot forgive the government, the police or the jail authorities for his condition…He has lost 10 to 12 kilos since he started his fast,” she said.
Prior to the August 21 meeting, she had met Ansari seven months ago. After being intimated about his hunger strike, Rehana went to Mumbai with her husband to meet Ansari.
The family also alleged that when policemen came to inform them about Ansari’s protest earlier this month, they took his father, Sayed Zakiuddin’s (83), thumb impression on a blank sheet of paper.
“My husband usually signs his name, why should he give a thumb impression? It was taken by force when I stepped out of the house,” Rehana said.
T P Lahane, Dean of JJ Hospital, said the jail authorities had not sought any medical opinion from the hospital regarding Ansari’s hunger strike.
“My doctors have not examined him in jail nor has he been admitted to JJ Hospital recently,” he said.
(With Tabassum Barnagarwala)