Calcutta, Nov. 3: Peter Bleach, serving a life sentence for his involvement in the Purulia armsdrop, is showing symptoms of a bout of tuberculosis barely a year after an earlier attack.
This morning, the British national was at the chest unit of SSKM Hospital for a check-up recommended by the doctor at Alipore Central jail. A visibly weak, bearded Bleach (Amit Datta picture on left) was examined for around 20 minutes by chest specialists S. Mitra and S. Bhattacharya, who prescribed antibiotics and vitamin supplements. The doctors later briefed British deputy high commission official John Hamilton about Bleach’s condition.
“It is quite certain that I am suffering from TB. They said all the results would come through in about a week,” said Bleach. “It’s a shame, really,” he carried on, “as I had put on eight kilos after being shifted from Presidency to Alipore Central. Now, I’m feeling quite unwell and my energy level is really low.”
Bleach had recovered from a previous bout of tuberculosis late last year, after doctors initially misdiagnosed his condition as pneumonia. Before being bundled into the police van and driven back to Alipore Central jail, Bleach traced the most recent slump in his health to the hunger-strike he had resorted to in early September, protesting his predicament.
The former British army intelligence officer was sentenced to life imprisonment along with five Latvians in February 2000. He remains behind bars despite the release of the Latvians, who were serving identical sentences, following the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin. During his visit to London, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had said he would look into Bleach’s case. That was four months ago, but in Bleach’s words: “Nothing seems to have moved.”
A long-time smoker, Bleach has requested a supply of nicotine patches from the deputy high commission. “He looked extremely pale and weak and said he had been suffering from coughing fits and a severe loss of energy. We will continue to monitor his state of health and welfare,” said Hamilton.