13 July 2010
By Nikhila Henry
The apartment located in HUDA complex, Saroor Nagar is owned by a social worker, B S H Prasad and acts as a shelter for HIV positive people who are trying to lead a normal life. The home currently houses three students enrolled in leading professional colleges in the city and a lecturer of a private junior college in Guntur.
According to the owner of the apartment, trouble started when the president of the residents welfare association, Srilatha, chanced upon posters on HIV awareness inside the apartment, where the four lived, around two weeks ago. She spread the word among the neighbours and in the enquiries which ensued, two of the four residents of the flat revealed their medical condition.
Following this, the resident welfare association threatened the students and asked them to vacate. When they did not oblige, 16 of the 32 house owners of the residential complex gathered signatures complaining against their stay and approached the Saroor Nagar police station for help in evicting them.
"The police did not lodge any case but an SI, Naresh asked the four residents to leave the place. When they objected, he threatened them of dire consequences," said Prasad, activist and house owner, who has now moved the State Human Rights Commission against the residents welfare association.
Responding to the issue, human rights and anti–stigma activists said that the residents welfare association of the complex and the police who allegedly threatened the HIV patients can be booked under the HIV AIDS Bill 2007. "The right to privacy and right to lead a public and cultural life of all the four patients were denied in this case. Those responsible for publicising their medical condition and threatening them to vacate the place on the basis of their medical condition can be taken to court. It is a shame that such a thing happened in the city," said G Jagdeesh Kumar, former sate manager of Telugu Network of People Living with HIV AIDS (AP) and activist.
Meanwhile, Cyberabad police officials denied that any of their personnel threatened the inmates of the house. Police, however, admitted that a complaint had reached the Saroor Nagar police station from the residents association a fortnight ago. "No action was taken. We advised them to solve the issue among themselves," a police official said.
Activists, however, pointed out that the police could have taken action against the association. "Instead of trying to solve the issue the police should have booked the residents welfare association as they were open about their bias," said M A Shakeel, coordinator, Human Rights Law Network.