FAMILY MEMBERS of writer-poet Varavara Rao, who has been behind bars since 2018 in the Elgaar Parishad case, have written Friday to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stating they have been denied any information on the 80-year-old’s medical condition and the treatment being provided to him at a private hospital where he was shifted following the commission’s order last week.
Rao had tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week after he was shifted from Taloja Central Jail to the state-run JJ Hospital. The NHRC had on July 17 recommended that he be shifted to a super-speciality hospital for further treatment, following which Rao was shifted to the Nanavati Hospital.
“Completely disregarding the NHRC directive, the family was not informed by either the hospital or jail authorities, about a head injury discovered on him upon arrival at the Nanavati Hospital. Consequently, we receive no official updates from the hospital or the prison authorities and our consent is not taken for any of the critical treatment that may be required to administer to him,” the letter states.
It further states that denial of regular health updates to the family members of a person in judicial custody is “unconstitutional and a cruel and inhuman act”.
Rao’s family members, including his wife and three daughters, have further urged the NHRC to intervene and direct the hospital and prison administrations to provide updates on Rao’s health and line of treatment every six hours.
The NHRC had last week directed the state government and the jail officials to file their responses on the medical treatment being provided to prisoners. The commission had also directed them to file a compliance report after shifting Rao to the ‘best possible Covid hospital’.
The Bombay High Court had also sought responses from the state government and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the Elgaar Parishad case, last week on whether Rao’s family members can be given permission to visit him in the hospital. The matter, which was listed for hearing Thursday, had not come up due to paucity of time.
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