Sudha Bharadwaj, now in jail for nearly 2 years, has developed a heart ailment. A jail report given to her family on July 23 stated that she is suffering from Ischemic Heart Disease, a heart problem caused by narrowing of arteries that causes reduced blood flow to the heart muscle and can lead to a heart attack.
In a press note released on August 26, Sudha’s daughter Mayesha said that she had never had any heart-related complaints before she was taken in custody in October 2018. Mayesha said that Sudha Bharadwaj’s heart ailment was clearly triggered by the stress she is facing due to her two-year-long incarceration with no trial on sight.
Sudha Bharadwaj already had existing ailments of diabetes, blood pressure, and a past history of pulmonary tuberculosis. Not only is she vulnerable and susceptible to being infected by COVID-19, but her comorbidities could also cause complications and health risks.
Activists from Chhattisgarh have demanded a decisive hearing for her release at the earliest on the grounds of her susceptibility to coronavirus infection within the jail surroundings, along with full access to her medical history in jail and all diagnostic notes. At present, in the medical report provided to Mayesha, no details of the diagnosis of her heart disease have been provided, such as the date or basis for diagnosis.
Sudha Bharadwaj is one of 12 activists and intellectuals who were framed for the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018, and accused of having Maoist links. Sudha Bharadwaj has worked for decades as a trade unionist and a lawyer, defending the rights of Adivasis, workers, and peasants against powerful industrial houses. She has been associated with the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha and founded Janhit, where she provided legal aid to several industrial workers, villages fighting acquisition and mining, Adivasi communities fighting for forest rights, environmental cases, and PIL litigation. She also assisted families of victims of human rights violations looked upon as casualties in the conflict zone of Bastar and supported journalists and activists who dared raise their voices and pen against the State excesses in Bastar.