WRITER-POET Varavara Rao’s health has been deteriorating in Taloja central jail, his lawyer and family said after receiving a phone call from him on Saturday. Rao, booked in the Elgaar Parishad case, has been behind bars since 2018. In May, the 81-year old was rushed to the state-run JJ Hospital after he fell unconscious in jail but was discharged within a few days.
Rao’s daughter Pavana told The Indian Express that they received a call from him on Saturday which lasted for 1.5 minutes and as he was unable to speak coherently, a co-inmate spoke to the family stating that Rao has been dependent on others for his daily chores as his condition has deteriorated in the past week. “He was incoherent on the phone call speaking about past events that occurred 50 years ago like they were happening now indicating a neurological disorder. When he was admitted to JJ Hospital, his medical reports said that he had atrophy. We consulted a doctor here and fear that the lack of medical attention is causing damage to his cells and any further delay will only worsen his condition. We were told he’s not being given any medical treatment in the jail,” Pavana said. According to a prison official, Rao has been kept in the hospital ward of the jail as he has ‘age-related’ ailments.
On Saturday, his lawyer Nihalsing Rathod wrote to the prison superintendent of Taloja jail via email where Rao is lodged, seeking his medical reports. The email said that Rao is bed-ridden and his condition is “extremely dilapidated” at the moment. With apprehensions of not receiving correct information about his medical condition, his lawyer also sought that Rao be given the video call facility “so that he will be able to be seen by his family”.
Rao’s application for interim bail was rejected by a special court last month and his appeal is pending before the Bombay High Court.
The special court while rejecting interim bail had said that the superintendent of prisons has been directed to take appropriate measures in such cases where medical attention is required.
Apart from Rao, ten others in the case have been lodged in city jails with two others Shoma Sen and Sudha Bharadwaj also denied bail recently.
Last month, 14 MPs had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to provide urgent medical attention and shifting him to a hospital.
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