Mumbai News

Varavara Rao Moved to Mumbai Hospital, Bombay HC to Hear Temporary Bail Plea – The Wire

New Delhi: Poet and human rights activist Varavara Rao, who has been in jail for nearly two years in the Elgar Parishad case, was on Monday night moved to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital in view of his deteriorating health conditions.

Rao, 81, had fallen ill in jail a few months ago and has reportedly not recovered. According to his family, his speech is slurred and he is hallucinating, and he is unable to take care of himself.

On Monday, Rao’s lawyers had approached the Bombay high court for temporary bail, given his ill health and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Rao filed two petitions in the high court through his advocate, R. Satyanarayan Iyer: one challenging a June 26 order passed by the special NIA court rejecting his bail plea, and the second seeking a direction to the authorities of Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai to produce his medical records.

The plea has also urged the court to direct the prison authorities to send Rao for a medical check-up immediately and submit reports. Both pleas are likely to be taken up for urgent hearing this week.

Rao’s family had on Sunday asked the jail authorities to provide him with immediate medical help and claimed that when the veteran activist, who hails from Telangana, contacted them last week he was in a “delirious state and hallucinating”. They alleged that Rao was not being given the medical attention he needed in jail.

Also read: Chained Muse: Notes from Prison by Varavara Rao

A fellow accused in the case, Vernon Gonsalves, was moved in to the jail’s hospital to care for Rao, as Rao was unable to even walk on his own, his family said.

On Sunday, five senior academics – Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Devaki Jain, Maja Daruwala and Satish Deshpande – who had earlier appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of the rights activists arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, issued a statement asking for Rao’s release. “There is no reason in law or conscience” to hold him in these circumstances, they said.

Rao, who has been in the jail since his arrest in June 2018, for his alleged role in the Elgar Parishad- Koregaon Bhima case of Maharashtra, was, along with other accused, moved from Pune’s Yerwada prisons to Taloja central jail in the outskirts of Mumbai earlier this year.

This was just a few days before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in India. Since then, the condition, especially in Mumbai, has been worrisome. Close to 500 persons have been infected with coronavirus and four persons have already died across prisons.

(With PTI inputs)