VIP detainees in hospital to be shifted back to jail
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

Chairman of the Partex Group, MA Hashem, who has been ‘undergoing treatment’ at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University since November 2007 was taken back to the Dhaka Central Jail on Monday afternoon.

Hashem, who was arrested on February 4, 2007 in the ongoing drive against serious crime and corruption, was among the 19 high-profile prisoners staying in the hospital.

Deputy inspector-general of prisons, Major Shamsul Haider Siddiqui, said the hospital’s authorities released Hashem as he was not ill enough to be treated in the hospital. The other VIP prisoners, who are not seriously ill and who can be treated in the jail’s hospital, are expected to be shifted to the jail or the jail’s hospital soon, he said on Monday night.

The jail authorities claimed that no one, excepting Awami League’s general secretary Abdul Jail, was sick enough to deserve to stay in a hospital outside the jail. ‘We have kept rooms ready for the other VIP prisoners who are staying in hospital on the plea of receiving medical treatment,’ said the DIG of prisons, and added that 17 such prisoners are staying in BSMMU.

Jalil, who seems to be seriously ill, is undergoing treatment at LabAid Hospital. The Dhaka Central Jail’s authorities asked the BSMMU’s doctors to send back the prisoners whose treatment is possible inside the jail, as the BSMMU prison cell is reportedly overcrowded by VIP prisoners.

A total of 19 prisoners, including three women, have been undergoing treatment at the medical university’s prison cell for the last two or three months. Some of them, who are not VIPs, are getting treatment in the veranda of the cell.

The instructions for returning the prisoners to jail were issued after a meeting between the jail’s authorities and the BSMMU’s administration over the issue on Monday following press reports that high-profile prisoners held in the current drive are overcrowding the medical cell even though they are not seriously ill.

The jail’s authorities have faced severe problems in providing healthcare services to seriously ill prisoners, so the government set up a 12-bed prison cell — the only such cell in the country — at the BSMMU for treatment of those prisoners whose condition is critical. But the VIP prisoners filled up all the beds of the prison cell for long, while some non-VIPs spilled over into its veranda, said the DIG.

Therefore the doctors were relieved when the jail’s authorities requested them to send back those prisoners whose ailments can be treated in the jail so that the critically sick prisoners can be accommodated in the hospital for better treatment.

Detained former premier Khaleda Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman, former minister Tariqul Islam of the BNP, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir of the AL, former lawmaker Mosaddek Ali Falu of the BNP, Sigma Huda who is the wife of ex-minister Barrister Nazmul Huda, ex-MP Ali Asgar Lobi’s wife, ex-MP Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu of the BNP, ex-state minister Lutfozzaman Babor of the BNP, ex-minister Mirza Abbas of the BNP and former JP lawmaker Anwara Begum are among those staying in hospital.

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