Ex-Congress MLA serving jail term in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case dies of COVID-19

NEW DELHI, Jul 5: A former Congress MLA serving jail sentence in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case died due to COVID-19 at a hospital here, the second inmate of Mandoli prison to have succumbed to the infection, officials said on Sunday.

Mahender Yadav (70) was a former MLA from Palam constituency. He was lodged in Jail no. 14 of Mandoli prison, where he was undergoing a sentence of 10 years, and had been hospitalised on June 26, they said.

Another convict Kanwar Singh, who died last month and had tested positive for coronavirus, was also lodged in Jail no. 14.

Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said that Yadav complained of uneasiness and some heart-related problems on June 26. He was taken to DDU Hospital, from where he was referred to LNJP Hospital the same day and admitted there.

Later, on his family’s request, he was allowed to be shifted under police guard to a private hospital in Dwarka on June 30.

“We received information that Mahender Yadav expired in Akash Hospital on July 4 evening,” he added.

Yadav had been lodged in the jail since December 31, 2018, according to officials.

The former MLA’s son and Delhi Congress leader Raghuvindra Yadav alleged the jail authorities did not take care of his father properly and they did not inform the family about his admission to hospital after he was tested positive for COVID-19.

“We were not informed about his health condition by the jail authorities. I got to know only on June 28 from someone that my father had been admitted to a hospital after having tested positive for coronavirus. I then requested the jail authorities to allow me to admit him to a private hospital for better treatment,” he told PTI over phone.

Yadav said he met his father last on June 30 and spoke to him for hardly five minutes, while he was being shifted to a hospital in Dwarka.

“He was doing fine then but day-by-day, his condition deteriorated and he was not in a position to speak to us,” he said.

However, the jail authorities denied the allegations and said he was being looked after well and that they had telephonically informed his family on the evening of June 26 at the time of his admission in LNJP Hospital.

On July 1, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea for interim bail of Yadav on the ground that he had been admitted to the ICU after having tested positive for COVID-19.

Kanwar Singh died on June 15 in his sleep. A COVID-19 test had turned out to be positive, the officials said.

Following his death, 29 inmates who shared barrack with him, including Yadav, were tested for coronavirus. The reports came on June 20 and 17 of them tested positive, the officials said.

After five days, all the 12 inmates who tested negative earlier were again tested for the infection as a precautionary measure, considering their age, a senior jail official said.

Among them, three, including Yadav, tested positive for the virus as per their reports received on June 26, and the same day, Yadav was shifted to a hospital after he complained of uneasiness, he said.

In 2018, Yadav and former MLA Kushan Khokhar were convicted in the case in which 73-year-old former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was sentenced to life for the “remainder of his natural life” by the Delhi High Court on December 17.

Delhi has three prisons — Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini.

According to data shared by jail officials, 53 inmates of the three prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, out of whom, 31 have recovered and two died.

Out of the 88 Delhi prison staffers who have tested positive for coronavirus so far, 28 have recovered. (PTI)