Family members of Varavara Rao write to Maharashtra Home Minister

Hyderabad: Hemalatha, wife of Varavara Rao and daughters, P. Sahaja, P. Anala and P. Pavana wrote a letter to Home Minister of Maharashtra requesting him to direct jail authorities or hospital to provide regular updates on Mr. Rao’s health status.

Complete text of the letter is as follows

To

The Minister for Home,

Government of Maharashtra,

Mumbai,

Maharashtra.

Subject: Disturbing status of health of Sri Varavara Rao – Request for regular and transparent information – reg.

Sir,

We, the family of Sri Varavara Rao, are compelled to write this letter to you, as we are denied any information about his health condition or treatment at Nanavati Hospital for the last twelve days. We are extremely worried and anxious to know about his health. We are writing to you since he is lodged in a jail under your ministry as an under-trial prisoner and it is your bounden duty to look after his well-being. It is also your duty to inform his family in case of any problem to his health, as per the Charter of Patient Rights prepared by Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry. You should appreciate that we as family of an ailing, 80-year old prisoner admitted in a hospital as a tested positive Covid patient, have every right to know about his status and line of treatment. It is not only our legal right, but also a right based on principles of natural justice. We hope you will understand the anxiety of a family who is kept in dark for 12 days when a member is lodged in a hospital in a grave condition.

From the time he was shifted out of Taloja Jail to JJ Hospital, later to St George’s hospital and then to Nanavati hospital, the only official information provided to the family was that he had tested positive for the COVID-19 on July 16, 2020.

We have been calling Taloja jail ever since he was transferred to Nanavati Hospital. On July 22, 2020, the jail personnel picked up our call and said that the jail hospital/ jail doctor might have information about Mr. Rao’s health. We tried to contact the jail hospital but there was no response. Our lawyer Ms. Padma called the Jail Superintendent on July 22, 2020 on his mobile number. Once she had introduced herself, the call was disconnected. She received no response to the text message that she had sent to the same mobile number. We have called Taloja jail again on July 24, 2020 and the person that answered the phone said that the jail has no information about Mr.Rao’s health.

We have been calling Nanavati Hospital also every day since July 20, 2020 but received no response from them. We contacted the PRO of Nanavati Hospital on July 21, 2020. In response to our message to the hospital authorities (the PRO of Nanavati Hospital), we were informed on July 26, 2020 (yesterday) that the hospital has been updating the jail authorities regularly about his health: “Ms. Pavana, we are regularly giving updates to jail authorities, you can approach them for details …” was the message we received. It is a mystery why this information is not passed on to the family by the jail authorities.

We believe that it is inhuman and unethical to withhold the information about Mr Rao’s health to his anxious family. It is very clear that the Jail authorities have regular updates about Mr. Rao’s health. Mr. Rao is an under-trial prisoner in your custody and the jail authorities have the responsibility to give us regular updates or instruct the Nanavathi hospital to release regular health bulletins.

We, therefore, request you to direct Taloja jail authorities or Nanavati Hospital to provide regular updates on Mr. Rao’s health status, the diagnosis of his health problems and line of treatment to us. Is Mr. Rao doing well? Given his age and ailments, what is the impact of Covid-19 on his health? We have many questions and doubts lingering in our minds.  We believe as Mr. Rao’s family we should have access to information about his health, according to the law of the land and medical ethics.

Yours sincerely,

P. Hemalatha (Wife of Varavara Rao)

P. Sahaja, P. Anala, P. Pavana (Daughters)

Copy to ADG (Prisons), Maharashtra

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