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Poet Varavara Rao seeks bail

Poet Varavara Rao, 81, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, sought interim bail on medical grounds before a special court on Friday. Mr. Rao has been lodged at Taloja jail since his arrest on August 31, 2018.

Advocate R. Satyanarayan, who represented Mr. Rao, said his client had underlying health conditions such as piles, prostate enlargement, coronary artery disease, oedema, hypertension, acidity, and migraine.

Persecution of activists, scribes condemned

He said granting bail to elderly inmates and those with co-morbidities was recommended by the high-powered committee constituted to come up with criteria to release prisoners from jails in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The lawyer contended that Mr. Rao was at a high risk of contracting the virus owing to his advanced age and co-morbid conditions. On May 28, Mr. Rao was admitted to JJ Hospital after he complained of giddiness and fainted.

Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty will be making his arguments on June 26.

Appeal by MPs

Fourteen MPs wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister ashtra Uddhav Thackeray requesting urgent attention to Mr. Rao’s health and transfer him from a jail to a hospital.

The letter said, “We are seeing reports every day of the massive surge in COVID-19 infections within prisons. 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 Mr. Rao’s voice was extremely feeble when he could speak to them on a call made after a month. Two weeks ago, on May 27, 2020, he was rushed to JJ Hospital in Mumbai in a semi-conscious state on a stretcher after a fainting episode. This deterioration in his health happened while he was under observation of the doctors in the Taloja prison, the letter said.

Referring to his health reports, the letter mentions that the hospital indicated an electrolyte disturbance which could prove detrimental as he is already a cardiac patient.

Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Manoj Jha, P.R. Natarajan, K.K. Ragesh, D. Ravikumar, A. Revanth Reddy, M. Selvaraj, K. Subbarayan, Thamizhachi Thangapandian, Tiruchi Siva, Thol Thirumavalavan, Uttam Kumar Reddy and S. Venkatesan are the MPs who sent the appeal to the Maharashtra Chief Minister.

They also requested access to medical treatment for professor G.N. Saibaba, held in the Nagpur Central Jail, who is wheelchair-bound.

Meanwhile, advocate Sharif Shaikh sought the court’s permission to speak to professor Shoma Sen (61), another accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, who is lodged at Byculla jail.

The other activists jailed in the case are Sudha Bhardwaj, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalvez, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale and Rona Wilson.

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The activists were booked by the Pune Police for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches at the Elgaar Parishad held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017. The speakers at the conclave are accused of triggering the violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day.

The probe was taken over by the National Investigation Agency in January.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 8:03:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/poet-varavara-rao-seeks-bail/article31873293.ece

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