Hyderabad: Twenty-two HIV positive people were detained by Cyberabad police while protesting at the Hotel Novotel in Hitech City on Monday. They were protesting against the provisions of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Agreement, especially access to medicines. The protestors claimed they were not even given food and many of them were on medication. They were let off in the evening. Police said they had detained them as the protesters violated ban orders. Earlier in the morning, Peoples Forum took out a rally from Peoples Plaza on Necklace Road to I-max circle and back with about 500 people from 26 different organisations from across India. “The talks should be conducted in a transparent manner and not in secrecy. It is the responsibility of the Centre to make healthcare affordable and not trade it away through FTAs for MNCs to make profits by hiking drug prices,” said Shalini Bhutani of the Forum Against Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and RCEP.
Gangte, the South Asia regional coordinator of ITPC, a worldwide coalition of people living with HIV and advocates universal access to optional HIV treatment, said that protecting access to medicines in India is crucial. India supplies cheap but quality generic medicines to over 60 countries around the world. It is a tragedy that we were all arrested in Hyderabad, the bowl of bulk generic drugs in India.
Since the protest had no permission, police were called in and they were shifted to Narsingi police station. "There were around 16 of them including 12 women. We took them into preventive custody and freed after an hour. They were protesting in an area where ban orders were in place," said Madhapur inspector R. Kalinga Rao.