Vara Vara Rao hospitalized, no news about his health condition

Sruthi Vibhavari

Hyderabad:  The 81-year old Maoist ideologue, poet, and political activist Vara Vara Rao, whose family released a statement regarding his deteriorating health on Saturday (July 11), is shifted to JJ hospital, Mumbai on Tuesday.

Rao is incarcerated and facing trial in NIA’s Elgar Parishad- Koregaon Bhima case along with nine others.

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The activist-poet was arrested in August 2018 by Pune Police, but he was released on bail following a court order. He was rearrested in November 2018 and taken to Yeravada Jail but later moved to Taloja Jail, Mumbai. Several bail petitions on various health-related grounds have been rejected. 

Rao has endured precarious health conditions in jail. He was admitted to the hospital on May 28, was given a normal health report, even as his health was nowhere close to normal. He was shifted back to jail. A bail plea on health grounds was rejected based on this ‘normal’ report, the family said. The Bombay HC is likely to hear another temporary bail plea on July 17 and the family suspects that the police will get another ‘normal’ report from the hospital to show it in the court on July 17 to argue against bail petition. 

Meanwhile, according to N Venugopal, brother-in-law of Vara Vara Rao, the jail authorities did not inform the family about shifting of Rao to the hospital though it is mandatory. “We have to increase our pressure to grant him bail and allow our family to provide better medical care to him,” he added.

In the statement issued by wife Hemalata, daughters Sahaja, Anala, and Pavana on July 11, it is stated that his health condition is precarious. They said, “The confusion, loss of memory, and incoherence are the results of electrolyte imbalance and fall of Sodium and Potassium levels leading to brain damage.”

The charge-sheet filed against Vara Vara Rao and others by the NIA mentions that Rao is a member of the banned CPI (M) party. The Supreme Court, however, maintains that mere membership of any banned organization is not sufficient to deem a person to be a criminal. The Maharashtra police claim that the former-Maoist leader conspired to destabilize the government by organizing Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017, which saw about 35,000 people in attendance. The police also stated that the Parishad incited violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

There seems no clear direction towards a speedy trial and closure of the case. Keeping Rao under suspicious trial for about two years now and denying his right to bail, even as his health keeps deteriorating, is akin to a death sentence, analysts said.

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