Health status: Varavara Rao’s family turns to Deshmukh

July 28, 2020 01:40 am | Updated 01:40 am IST - Mumbai

After writing to the National Human Rights Commission, the family of poet Varavara Rao (81) has requested Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to ensure that they get regular updates on Mr. Rao’s health.

Mr. Rao is currently admitted to Nanavati Hospital. His wife Hemalatha and daughters Sahaja, Anala and Pavana have claimed that they have been denied information about his health condition or treatment at the hospital for the last 12 days.

“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 the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry. We as family of an ailing, old prisoner 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,” the letter sent to Mr. Deshmukh on Monday said.

Mr. Rao, who was arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence, was lodged in Taloja Central Jail.

The family said 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 COVID-19 on July 16.

The letter said when the family called the jail on July 22, an official said the jail hospital or the jail doctor might have information about Mr. Rao’s health. They then tried to contact the jail hospital but there was no response. When the family’s lawyer called the jail superintendent on the same day on his mobile number and introduced herself, the call was disconnected. She even received no response to the subsequent text message that she had sent.

The family called Taloja jail again on July 24 and the person who answered the phone said the jail had no information about Mr. Rao’s health, the letter stated.

It further said that when the family called Nanavati Hospital, the public relations officer there said the hospital had been updating the jail authorities about Mr. Rao’s health.

The family has urged Mr. Deshmukh to direct the jail authorities or the hospital to provide regular updates on Mr. Rao’s health status: the diagnosis of his health problems, the line of treatment, whether he is doing well given his age and ailments, and the impact of COVID-19 on his health.

“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,” the letter concluded.

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