Poet Varavara Rao tests positive for coronavirus

The 81-year-old, who was undergoing treatment at the JJ Hospital in Mumbai was shifted to the St George Hospital.
Poet Varavara Rao tests positive for coronavirus
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Jailed poet and activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence, tested positive for the coronavirus. The 81-year-old, who was undergoing treatment at the JJ Hospital in Mumbai, is being shifted to the St George Hospital in the city.

Rao had earlier been lodged in the Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, and was shifted to the government-run hospital in south Mumbai on Monday night after he complained of giddiness.

Dr Ranjeet Mankeshwar, Dean of JJ Hospital, earlier said that Rao had been admitted to the Neurology Department after he was brought to the medical facility from the jail on Monday night.

Samples had also been taken from him for a COVID-19 test during this time.

Rao's family members, along with several writers and activists, had asked that he be immediately shifted to a hospital for treatment, citing his deteriorating health condition.

Rao's family members on Sunday sought that the jail authorities provide him immediate medical care and claimed that when the veteran activist, who hails from Telangana, contacted them last week, he was in a "delirious state and hallucinating."

Rao has been in jail for about 22 months and had earlier approached the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, seeking bail on medical grounds and the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

Maharashtra Minister Jitendra Awhad had also demanded that Rao be shifted to a hospital.

In a tweet, Awhad had said, "We are extremely worried about Varvara Rao's health condition. His possession is under Home Ministry of Central Government and not under the Maharashtra Government. We appeal to the Central Government to urgently shift him to a hospital."

On Monday, Rao filed two petitions in the Bombay High Court, seeking temporary bail owing to his deteriorating health and a direction to the jail authorities to produce his medical records and admit him to a state-run or private hospital.

Rao and nine other activists have been arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, which was initially probed by the Pune Police and later transferred to the NIA in January this year.

The case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence on the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial. Rao was taken into custody under charges of instigating violence at the Bhima Koregaon event and over an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The police have also claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.

PTI inputs

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