FAMILY MEMBERS of writer-poet Varavara Rao on Sunday appealed to the Centre and the state governments of Maharashtra and Telangana for immediate medical aid to him. The 80-year old Rao is lodged in Taloja central jail in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case.
On Saturday, his wife Hemalatha had received a call from Rao, during which he was incoherent, with his co-inmate informing them that he has been admitted to the hospital ward of the prison and was unable to carry out any of his daily chores without depending on others.
We are extremely worried about Varvara Rao’s health condition . His possesion is under Home Ministry of Central Govt and not under Maharashtra Govt. We appeal to the Central Govt to urgently shift him to a hospital.@AnilDeshmukhNCP
— Dr.Jitendra Awhad (@Awhadspeaks) July 12, 2020
Later in the evening, NCP leader and Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad said: “We are extremely worried about Varvara Rao’s health condition . His possesion is under Home Ministry of Central Govt and not under Maharashtra Govt. We appeal to the Central Govt to urgently shift him to a hospital.”
“We are requesting the governments to immediately shift him to a hospital where he can be given medical attention. We have received four calls from him since the time he was shifted back to the jail from JJ Hospital on June 1. On the last two calls, on Saturday and June 2, we got a sense that his condition is worsening as he is unable to string a sentence together. He is a teacher by profession and is known to be a great orator but was unable to find words to speak on the phone call,” his daughter Pavana said during the virtual press conference, translating her mother’s address given in Telugu.
Rao was rushed to JJ Hospital in May after he fell unconscious in the jail but was discharged within three days. Family members said that he was discharged even before he had recovered completely as his bail hearing was slated to be heard in the special court. The bail plea was rejected. An appeal against the court’s order seeking interim bail on medical grounds is now pending before the Bombay High Court.
Pavana said her father had been in the forefront of the Telangana separate statehood movement since 1969 and had struggled for the state’s formation but multiple letters to the state authorities, including chief minister, seeking intervention for Rao’s health did not yield a response. “In Maharashtra too, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had, immediately after its formation, spoken about the case and raised doubts from their side. We expect them to ensure immediate aid to him since the jail department comes under the state government,” Pavana said, also requesting the National Investigation Agency, the central agency that has taken over the probe from the Pune Police, to ensure that Rao’s health does not deteriorate further.
“He is one of the intellectuals of the country. If that kind of a person is going to die in jail because of the negligence of the government…this is very pathetic,” she said.
Meanwhile, five petitioners have approached the Supreme Court seeking that Rao be shifted to a hospital where he can receive proper treatment. Academician Romila Thapar and others have said that Rao had cooperated with the investigation and poses no flight risk if granted bail so that his family can take care of him during his illness.
On Sunday, a special court rejected a bail plea of activist Gautam Navlakha, a co-accused in the case. He had sought bail on technical grounds that the NIA had not filed a chargesheet within the stipulated time. The court has extended the time to the NIA to file a chargesheet against him and academician Anand Teltumbde, who were arrested on April 14 this year.