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Shift Varavara Rao to COVID-19 hospital, NHRC tells Maharashtra

Varavara Rao. File.

Varavara Rao. File.  

Following a complaint from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) regarding lack of facilities and treatment being provided to Varavara Rao, the 81-year-old poet who is being held in the Taloja Jail in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said on Friday that the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra is expected to look into the matter personally to ensure that he is shifted to the best possible COVID-19 hospital today.

Stating that Mr. Rao is an under trial prisoner presently in the custody of the State, the Commission said the government must ensure that all the expenditure of the medical treatment is borne by the State, being his lawful custodian.

Also read | Romila Thapar, others write to Maharashtra govt, NIA urging immediate medical care for Varavara Rao

The Commission had received a complaint from Maja Daruwala, board member and senior advisor of the CHRI regarding the difficulties being faced by Mr Rao, stating that he was suffering from several ailments due to which his health condition is deteriorating. He is unable to walk and the jail authorities were allegedly not providing him the requisite health care facilities, Ms Daruwala said.

The Chief Secretary and the Director General (Prisons), Maharashtra, are yet to respond to an earlier direction from the NHRC on July 13, calling for a report on the matter within two weeks and directing that a Medical Board be constituted to examine the health condition of Mr Rao. The Commission had also mentioned that the Board is expected to decide in which hospital Mr. Rao will get the best medical treatment.

The Commission had observed that the right to life and medical care is a basic human rights and the state was duty bound to provide a prisoner in its custody appropriate medical care so that there should be no danger to his life.

The Commission said “it is established that the persons above the age of 60 years with co-morbidities are more vulnerable if they are Covid positive. The health condition of Mr Rao was already worrisome and now when he has been tested positive for the Covid-19, danger to his life has grown bigger which is a matter of concern for the Commission. It is a question of saving a precious human life leaving apart the legal aspect of the matter. It is, therefore, necessary that the State Government should provide Mr. Rao the best possible treatment in a reputed super speciality private hospital without any further delay".

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 5:56:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/shift-varavara-rao-to-covid-hospital-nhrc-tells-maharashtra/article32115964.ece

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