Ex Andhra Home Minister recalls Varavara Rao’s role as peace emissary, appeals to PM

Former Andhra Home Minister K Jana Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing for Varavara Rao’s interim bail.
Varavara Rao
Varavara Rao
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Former Home Minister of united Andhra Pradesh and Congress leader, K Jana Reddy wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday seeking interim relief for 81-year-old Varavara Rao, a poet and activist who has been imprisoned on accusations of instigating the Bhima Koregaon violence and conspiring a plot to eliminate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Recalling the efforts of Varavara Rao as a peace emissary between the then Andhra Pradesh government and naxals, enabling them to hold peace talks in 2004, Jana Reddy said, “As the then Home Minister I carried the responsibility of holding peace talks between the then AP government and naxal parties in the year 2004 October. Mr Rao played a significant role in creating cordial climate in conducting these peace talks and was genuinely interested in bringing peace in the state.”

Jana Reddy stressed that given Varavara Rao's age and his health condition, the Prime Minister should at least grant him an interim bail so that his family can take care of him. “I also learn from the press that he is developing dementia which needs complete attention of the family. I feel concerned about his health and thought of personally appealing to you,” Reddy wrote. 

Varavara Rao, who is a revolutionary poet is presently admitted in Nanavati Hospital seeking treatment for his illness and COVID-19. 

The efforts of Rao’s family seeking his release at least until he recovers from the illness was challenged by the National Investigation Agency, the central investigative agency, which is probing the Bhima Koregaon case. 

Earlier this week, opposing the bail petition in the Bombay High Court, in a 170-page affidavit, the NIA said that Rao is taking “undue benefit of the situation” in seeking bail “under the garb” of COVID-19 and his old age.

“Rao is a senior member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and is not only involved in planning and preparing violence but was in the process of creating large scale violence, destruction of property resulting into chaos in the society and thereby destabilising the government established by law to fulfil the objectives of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) a ban organisation which is listed in the First Schedule of the UAPA,” the NIA said to the court.

Varavara Rao has been in jail for nearly two years without a trial. On May 28, he reportedly collapsed in Taloja jail in Mumbai following which he was admitted to the JJ Hospital. His family learnt that he was hallucinating and sounded disjointed after a phone conversation with him on July 11. Following condemnation from several human rights activists, Rao was shifted to JJ Hospital on July 13 for treatment. Subsequently, he tested positive for coronavirus. When his family visited him in JJ Hospital he was found unattended in a pool of urine on the bed. He could not identify his family members, the family said. The family then approached the National Human Rights Commission seeking proper medical care to the undertrial prisoner, and the NHRC constituted a medical board and asked them to shift Rao to a better hospital.  Following this, he was shifted to Nanavati Hospital on July 19. 

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