Mumbai: Expressing serious concern over the health of 79-year-old poet, Varavara Rao, around 15 Members of Parliament from various parties have written a joint letter to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, requesting that Rao be given adequate medical care.
The MPs have requested that Rao, who has been in jail for close to two years for his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad case, be shifted to a hospital where he can be saved from any further health complications and also from possible exposure to the coronavirus.
The 15 MPs who endorsed the request include Kanimozhi (DMK), Komati Reddy Venkat Reddy (Congress), Manoj Jha (RJD), P.R. Natarajan, S. Venkatesan and K.K. Ragesh of CPI(M), D. Ravikumar (VCK), A. Revanth Reddy (Congress), K. Subbarayan (CPI), Sumathy Thamizhachi Thangapandian (DMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Thol Thirumavalavan (VCK), and Uttam Kumar Reddy (Congress).
The MPs have said that Rao, a cardiac patient suffering from intestinal ulcers, has been incarcerated without medical care. For the past six months, there has been no progress in the investigation, the petition has claimed. Rao, along with 10 other human rights defenders was arrested in 2018 and was being investigated by Pune police until January when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over.
The NIA, however, has not filed any progress reports or supplementary chargesheets to show its work in the past six months.
“It has also come to our notice through the family members of Varavara Rao that the aged poet is vomiting several times daily and is not keeping well. His family mentioned that Varavara Rao’s voice was extremely feeble when he could speak to them on a call made after a month,” the letter states.
On May 30, Rao had to be urgently moved to the state-run JJ hospital after he had fainted and fallen at the Taloja central prison. Rao spent a few days in the hospital and was moved back to the prison.
His bail application, both on the ground of merit and in view of the ongoing pandemic have been repeatedly rejected by the courts. The MPs, in the letter, said, “As he is under such a dire health condition, we urge you to transfer him to a hospital. The present level of care provided in the jail is not acceptable. We request you to give him the necessary and urgent medical attention by moving him to a hospital.”
Several prisons across Maharashtra have been reeling from the COVID-19 outbreak with close to 200 incarcerated people falling ill and four persons succumbing to the infection. In all four cases, the tests were done only after their death.
The signatories, along with Rao, have also sought urgent medical care for G.N. Saibaba, a wheelchair-bound academic with 90% disabilities, who has been in jail after having been given a life term under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.