Varavara Rao, who has been imprisoned in the Bhima Koregaon case, was shifted to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital on Friday evening as his health deteriorated.

Revolutionary poet Varavara Rao File photo/PTI
news Arrest Saturday, May 30, 2020 - 14:57

As revolutionary poet Varavara Rao fell ill on Friday evening and was shifted to JJ Hospital in Mumbai, his family members sought his immediate release from the Taloja jail in Maharashtra. Rao is in judicial custody in the Bhima Koregaon case and has been accused of plotting the assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rao’s family said that they were informed about the failing health of Rao at around 8.30 pm on Friday. The family is anxious after multiple media reports claimed that he was admitted at a hospital within the Taloja jail premises for three days before being shifted to JJ Hospital. It was suspected that he may have contracted coronavirus, and his health deteriorated as a result. However, he was tested negative for the virus on Saturday. 

80-year-old Varavara Rao was jailed in the Bhima Koregaon violence case in November 2018 along with several civil rights activists including Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira. The Pune police accused him of being part of the group conspiring to eliminate Narendra Modi.

Rao’s wife P Hemalatha, in a media statement said that the Telangana government’s statement of making arrangements for the family’s travel to meet him in Mumbai is “worrying”. Owing to her poor health, she said that she can't travel to Mumbai. However, she asked the court to provide the required permission for her family members to meet her husband.

In an appeal to the Central and state governments, she asked the agencies to make arrangement for video conference with Rao. “As Rao has already undergone 18 months of incarceration on fabricated charges and without any trial, he should be released immediately on bail,” she said.  

Speaking to the media, his daughter Pavana said that it is the “minimum responsibility” of the Telangana government to make efforts for his immediate release. “Since the first wave of Telangana statehood movement, he actively participated for a separate state. Now that there is a threat to his life due to his health condition, at least ensure a temporary bail. He was arrested numerous times and never went absconding, but faced the cases,” she said assuring cooperation in the case.

Seeking the intervention of Minister of State for Home, G Kishan Reddy, Pavana urged that the National Investigation Agency shouldn’t object to the bail of Rao.

“Previously the NIA had declined the bail petition. Since NIA works directly under MHA, Kishan Reddy, who is from Telangana, should intervene. This is our request as a family,” Pavana said.

Varavara Rao’s daughters, Sahaja, Pavana and Anala, earlier this week had written a letter to Governor of Maharashtra, Chief Justice of Maharashtra High Court and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, requesting their father’s release as his health was deteriorating.

Meanwhile, the Telangana State Union of Working Journalists- a union of journalists- too appealed for the immediate release of Varavara Rao, either by giving him temporary bail or on parole.