JMM MLA Sita Soren after her surrender in the CBI court in Ranchi on Tuesday
Ranchi, Feb. 26: JMM MLA Sita Soren’s chest pain is now a source of thumping worry for Birsa Munda Central Jail authorities.
The CBI court today slapped a showcause on Birsa jail officials, seeking explanation within three days on how and why Sita, accused of taking Rs 1.5 crore as bribe to cast her vote in an industrialist’s favour in the 2012 Rajya Sabha polls, was sent to RIMS yesterday without its consent.
The court’s showcause arrived at the Hotwar jail around 4pm when Sita was at a “VIP cottage” of RIMS.
On the run since last August, Sita finally surrendered yesterday before special CBI judge R.K. Choudhary’s court and was forwarded to judicial custody at the central prison till her next hearing scheduled on March 1. But as soon as she stepped foot on jail premises, Sita complained of chest pain. By evening, jail doctors promptly marched off to the state-run RIMS in Bariatu, where she spent the night at its ICU.
This morning, she was sent to a RIMS VIP cottage, her “hospital arrest” following the time-honoured tradition of Jharkhand’s luminaries — notably, tainted former chief minister Madhu Koda and his flamboyant colleagues — who were sent by courts to Birsa jail but found comfort in RIMS.
Though her brother-in-law, chief minister Hemant Soren can’t be expected to comment on her health, Sita is under the care of his namesake, doctor Hemant Narayan Rai at RIMS.
Jail superintendent D.K. Pradhan acknowledged the showcause from court. “Yes, we received a court letter today and will soon draft our reply to it,” he said but refused to give details.
But the showcause has sent jail officials into a tizzy.
“We got a letter from the court yesterday which asked us to give her due medical needs. So, it was in that context that we sent her RIMS as jail doctors also had recommended. Now, it has backfired on us,” said an official.
“What can we do?” the source added. “Of the 18 posts meant for doctors at the jail, only five are posted. Our jail has roughly over 2,000 prisoners, including 30-35 women. But there is no lady doctor. Earlier, a lady doctor from JAP (Jharkhand Armed Police) used to come on a referral basis but not any more. We wrote to the civil surgeon many times on this but to no avail,” he added.
When it comes to political detainees, no jail authority wants to stick his neck out.
“We don’t take a risk. What if something happens to them (VIPs) due to lack of medical resources here?” he said.
Officially, no one wanted to come on record about political pressures. But off the record, everyone conceded they were under “much pressure” from the “powers-that-be” to recommend Sita’s shifting from Birsa jail to RIMS yesterday.
The entire team at the jail, including superintendent Pradhan, doctors, among others, apparently kept on receiving calls till evening to shift Sita to RIMS.
While Rai, who is treating Sita, took The Telegraph’s call courteously but parried the question of her health, no one wants to comment on her chest pain or blood pressure, apart from saying she did look nervous.
Sita, however, does have a problem related to thyroid and has to takes Altroxin 100mg regularly. But the lady herself stayed silent. “Sita did not say a word during her stay in jail for a few hours yesterday. Who are we to say?” asked the source.
Adding to the worry in the Soren household were reports that Sita’s father-in-law and JMM boss Shibu Soren had developed some urinary complications.
(with inputs from Rajkumar and Amit Gupta)