Kin not allowed to meet prisoners amid COVID-19: Maha minister

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Mumbai, Nov 9 (PTI) As Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked state home minister Anil Deshmukh to allow kin of arrested television journalist Arnab Goswami to see him, the senior NCP leader on Monday said relatives of inmates of jails are currently not allowed to meet them in view of the Cornovarius epidemic.

Speaking to reporters, Deshmikh said communication over phone is allowed with permission from authorities.

Deshmukh made these remarks after Koshyari asked him over phone to allow family members of the Republic TV editor- in-chief, arrested in connection with a 2018 suicide case, to see him and speak to him.

The governor also conveyed his concern over the security and health of Goswami, as per a statement issued by Raj Bhavan earlier in the day.

'I got a call from honourable Governor saheb. He (Governor) asked me to allow (Arnab) Goswami's family members to meet him (Goswami),' Deshmukh said.

Goswami is currently in judicial custody in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai.

'But you all know that during the COVID-19 period, for the past four months, we have not been allowing any relative to meet (inmates) due to the fear of the virus. Even lawyers are not allowed to meet (prisoners). However, they can communicate over phone with permission from authorities,' Deshmukh said.

He said this precaution was taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the past four months.

Goswami and two others - Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda - were arrested by Alibaug police from Mumbai on November 4 in connection with the suicide of architect- interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused.

After his arrest from his residence in Mumbai, Goswami was taken to Alibaug, where the Chief Judicial Magistrate remanded him and the two others in judicial custody till November 18.

Goswami was then kept at a local school which has been designated as a COVID-19 centre for the Alibaug prison.

On Sunday, he was shifted to Taloja jail in Raigad district after allegedly being found using a mobile phone while in judicial custody. PTI ENM NSK NSK