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   One of the saddest cases... (September 2, 1996)

One of the saddest cases, among all the politicians and others who have been of late accused and charged and arrested and put in prisons, is that of Mr. H.K.L. Bhagat. While others have been lodged in prison, the poor man has been kept in hospitals.

During a recent visit to New Delhi, a member of the Bhagat brigade was telling me about this. He lit fire to a truck tyre, looked at me as if considering whether he should put it around my neck, then decided against it and said: "Great injustice has been done to Bhagati, while others have been put in Tihar, he has been put at the All India Medical Science Hospital. It is most unfair."

"But I thought Mr. Bhagat preferred to stay in hospital instead of prison," I said.

"Who would like to stay in hospital!" the man said. "Would you like to stay in a hospital! No. Would the judge like to stay in a hospital! No. Then why would Mr. Bhagat like to stay in a hospital!"

"If you put it like that…" I said. "Tell me, why does Mr. Bhagat prefer prison to hospital?"

"Because Mr. Bhagat is a simple man, he has eaten the salt of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. In hospital, they give him an air-conditioned room, even at the Deendayal Upadhyay Hospital, hospital food, doctors and nurses to attend to him, unlike prison where warders and long-term prisoners would attend on him."

"Then why doesn't he tell, through his lawyer, that he wants to go to prison?" I inquired.

The man flared up: "Why shgould he say he wants to go to prison when he has done nothing wrong and has been wrongly implicated. You carry your accusations any further and we will get our men together and burn and loot every juggi on the other side of the Jamuna."

"Please, please, I was only making a point," I said. "I am a little confused. Just tell me, how has Mr. Bhagat been feeling lately?" Is he a little low?"

"Anybody would feel low if he was kept as a patient in a hospital, especially when he should have been kept as a prisoner in a prison. He has nothing to do the whole day except watch TV, meet friends and relations, and discuss development with party workers. The courts has played most foul with him in sending him to a hospital."

"What could the court do," I said. "Every time it ordered that he be removed to prison, he had a dizzy spell, and so had to be sent a hospital."

"Others have dizzy spells, they don't go to hospitals," the man said. "If he felt dizzy when it was ordered he should be sent to prison, it was out of happiness."

"I never thought of that," I said.

So that's that. And, for Mr. Bhagat's sake, I hope he is sent to Tihar soon.

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