Poet, activist Varavara Rao shifted to hospital from jail after he fell unconscious, family demands his immediate release

Poet and activist Varavara Rao, who was in Taloja Jail — in the outskirts of Mumbai — was taken to JJ Hospital in Mumbai after he fell unconscious in the prison on Thursday evening.

Rao’s family – based in Telengana – was informed by their local police about this on Friday evening. His family members said that they were informed that he is doing fine and that swab samples had been collected and sent for COVID-19 tests, the report of which is awaited.

His wife, P Hemalatha, released a statement demanding his immediate release. Hemalatha’s statement mentions that there were also reports in the media that he had been shifted to JJ Hospital after being hospitalised in Taloja Jail for three days. “In these various news items, we do not know which contains how much truth and gives out the exact health condition,” her statement said. She wrote in her statement that Telengana police officials have said that they would arrange for the family to visit Mumbai.

But Hemalatha, 72, wrote that she was not in a position to travel to Mumbai due to her age and due to severe stress. She appealed to the Central and state governments of Maharashtra and Telengana to let the family members know about the exact health conditions of Varavara Rao and arrange for a videoconference with him immediately, to be assured that he is fine.

“As Varavara Rao has already undergone 18 months of incarceration on fabricated charges and without any trial, he should be released immediately on bail,” Hemalatha wrote. With various ailments prior to his arrest 18 months ago, Hemalatha wrote that a thorough medical examination is necessary to find out what led to the present emergency.

Maoist ideologue and poet Varavara Rao was arrested by the Pune police in November 2018 from his Hyderabad flat for his alleged role in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case of Maharashtra. He was moved to Taloja jail in the outskirts of Mumbai from Pune’s Yerwada prisons earlier this year just before the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country. Since then, his family members have been worried about his health conditions inside the jail as many prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19. They have been particularly worried after a undertrial prisoner died on May 9.

Also read: The highly charged, momentous hours before Varavara Rao’s arrest, written by Varavara Rao’s nephew, N Venugopal Rao, poet, literary critic, journalist, public speaker and translator, who runs his own alternative magazine, Veekshanam, a monthly journal of political economy and society.

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