Dying a slow death in prison

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Abu Tahir, 33, languishing in the Coimbatore Central Prison for the last 15 years for a murder he committed when he was 18, will soon die behind bars. Doctors from the Coimbatore Medical College have diagnosed Abu with a rare disease, “systemic lupus erythematosus” wherein the organs stop functioning one by one.

Abu’s eyesight is already diminishing and both his kidneys have been affected. He also suffered a heart attack recently. The doctors have warned that he needs to be hospitalised regularly.

Abu’s grieving family members have approached the government seeking his release this September on Arignar Anna’s birthday. They want him to be comfortable in his last days.

“Abu was sent to prison in 1998 in a murder case as a teenager. He was a school dropout, but he had a zeal for education. He studied BBA and MA (History) in prison.

He might have committed a crime but every time he meets us he says he has repented and wants to die in peace without further suffering,” said Abu’s brother, Sikkander Basha, vegetable vendor in Ukkadam. Prison life has taken a toll on Abu, both physically and mentally, he added.

Abu’s friend A. Samsudheen said that he was not getting adequate medical care in prison. “We learnt from an RTI query that the Coimbatore GH is not equipped to treat Abu’s condition. The government should release him considering his poor health. We want to take him for better treatment,” he said in a choked voice.

Mr Sikkander’s child Suhaiba (6) recollects Abu’s last visit to the family. “Abu uncle says he is unwell. He takes more tablets than food. When will he be back home?” asked the child.

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