Family, ex-CIC commissioners appeal for Varavara Rao’s release after his medical condition worsens

The special court hearing his case has asked JJ Hospital, where he is admitted, to submit his medical report

Varavara Rao

The uproar for the release of imprisoned activist and poet Varavara Rao has grown stronger after reports of his declining health. The 79-year-old renowned literary critic who had been arrested in the Elgar Parishad case in 2018, was lodged at the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai and was hospitalized at the JJ Hospital in Mumbai on Thursday, May 28, according to various media reports.

Mumbai court asks for health report

In the wake of the appeals from the family and the reports of Varavara Rao’s health, a special court in Mumbai on Saturday, May 30, directed JJ Hospital to submit Rao’s medical report on account of a plea submitted by his lawyer R Satyanarayana before special judge DE Kothalikar saying that the fact that Rao had been shifted to the hospital showed that the matter was serious and at the time of the bail hearing it, to be held on June 2, would be imperative to examine Rao’s medical report and health condition, The Indian Express (IE) reported.

According to media reports, hospital authorities said that Rao had tested negative for Covid-19 and was stable. A senior doctor at the hospital told IE, “He is stable as of now and is being evaluated. He had dizziness, which seems to have been a vertigo attack.”

Appeals by family

In light of this, Rao’s wife, P Hemalatha had issued a statement depicting the apathy of the authorities and the gaps in information that were passed to the family about his condition. In her statement, on Saturday, May 30, she said that the family got to know of his precarious health condition at 8:30 PM on Friday, May 29, 2020 and that he was moved from Taloja Jail to JJ Hospital. The family was informed in “one sentence” by the Pune Police of Rao’s condition. Later, the family said, that after hours of anxiety and enquiries, they got to know that Rao had fallen unconscious in jail on Thursday evening and moved to the hospital and that by Friday evening all his vitals were recorded normal and a health bulletin by JJ Hospital and an official brief to the media were in the public domain. However, on the other hand, there were news reports that said he was hospitalized in jail for three days and then only moved to JJ Hospital. His wife said that between these two news reports that emerged, they couldn’t decide which contained the truth about his exact health condition. The statement by the Telangana Police officials stating they would make arrangements for the family’s visit to Mumbai to meet with an ailing Rao, were very worrying, his wife said.




Rao’s wife also said in her statement that due to the continuous stress, her age and poor health, she wasn’t in a position to travel to Mumbai. She also stated that a legal attempt to get permission for the family to meet him was being undertaken in Mumbai and that if the court granted permission, the family would visit him in hospital. She said that family could make its own travel arrangements if the court granted necessary permissions needed in the context of Covid-19.

She appealed to the Central and State governments of Maharashtra and Telangana asking that the family be apprised about the actual status of Rao’s health condition and that a video conference with him be arranged immediately and that a comprehensive medical examination be undertaken to find out the cause of him falling unconscious adding that he had prior medical conditions like prostate enlargement, coronary artery disease, oedema, hypertension, acidity, etc.

She also appealed that since he has already suffered 18 months of incarceration on fabricated charges and without trial, he should be immediately released on bail. She said that the Union Home Ministry should direct the NIA which has been acting particularly vindictive against him and his co-accused Deputy Home Minister G Kishan Reddy, should take the responsibility of his well-being and security along with the help of the Telangana government.

Last week, his family members and activists of Forum against Suppression staged protests at their respective homes demanding his release either on bail or on parole due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.



His daughters, P Sahaja, P Pavana and P Anala too had written to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray saying that during the last eight weeks of the lockdown, they were not allowed to visit him in jail and even the usual correspondence was disallowed. The lawyers were not permitted to visit him too and during the eight weeks, he was allowed to make only three phonecalls to his wife which lasted for two minutes. They stated that their father was only an undertrial prisoner and was earlier too acquitted in 25 cases in the last 47 years, adding that given this fact, his right to life as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, couldn’t be put to risk. They requested the CM to begin proceedings for their father’s bail or parole, allow family members to visit him, allow more phone calls and allow advocates to meet him in jail.



Ex-CIC commissioners appeal for Rao’s release

Protesting against the continuous captivity of Varavara Rao, especially given his health condition, former Central Information Commissioners, Shailesh Gandhi and M Sridhar Acharyulu penned a letter to Maharashtra CM appealing that the writer, poet and activist who is in judicial custody or the last 18 months in Bhima Koregaon case of alleged attempt to murder the Prime Minister Modi be released on humanitarian grounds.

The National Herald reported that the former CICs wrote to the CM saying, “The Pune Police and State Investigation Teams have investigated this case for around 16 weeks and could not collect even an iota of evidence to prove the wild charge that this 80-year-old man from Hyderabad has conspired/attempted to murder Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” They added that the Maharashtra government had stated that there was no evidence against him and others in the case and assured that the file would be closed. However, the case was taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), but no progress had been made so far.

They added, “Because of lack of evidence, Varavara Rao has every right to be acquitted as not guilty. Only awaited legal formality is the final judgment of acquittal by court. The length of waiting for final judgment is not known. The burden of proof of his guilt is totally on the shoulders of state, which has every authority to discharge when truth of his non-involvement in such alleged attempt was established.”

Gandhi and Acharyulu also mentioned that the news of Rao’s ill health was not relayed to the family on time and that given the status of the overcrowded Taloja jail which had 3,600 inmates against the capacity of 2,100, Rao was more vulnerable to illnesses. They also said that in jail, “Rao was denied daily newspapers, video conferences with wife were stopped, and water allocation reduced, mulaakhaats cancelled and information was blocked”.

They requested the CM to, acquit Rao or release him on bail immediately if the trial couldn’t be completed, shift him to a hospital in Hyderabad if possible and if not, allow his family to travel to visit him and permit video conferencing, apart from disclosing all his medical details and share certified copies of the entire file related to the investigation within 48 hours.


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