'Varavara Rao shifted to JJ hospital,' says CPI-M Central Committee member

Updated: Jul 14, 2020, 07:18 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

CPI-M credits the move to nationwide pressure, after family claimed his health was worsening in prison

Varavara Rao's family wants him to be admitted to a hospital
Varavara Rao's family wants him to be admitted to a hospital

Ailing poet-activist, Varavara Rao, whose health was fast deteriorating in Taloja jail according to his family, was shifted to JJ Hospital on Monday night, sources said. "I am happy that Rao has been shifted to a hospital last night. The countrywide collective pressure led to this welcome development," said Mumbai's CPI-M Central Committee member Ashok Dhawale.

Taloja jail officials and JJ Hospital officials were unavailable for comment.

The CPI-M, Maharashtra State Committee, has said, "Rao has been in jail for 22 months without a trial under false and fabricated charges in the Bhima Koregaon case, thanks to the political vendetta of the central government."

Health worries
Ashok Dhawale from Mumbai, central committee member CPI-M, said, "Rao's family has issued a press statement in Hyderabad (Rao lives in Hyderabad) with a heart-rending appeal to admit him to a well-equipped hospital. His health has deteriorated, he cannot walk or even brush his teeth without assistance. More worryingly, he is hallucinating with the progressive collapse of his mental faculties. We also know that COVID-19 has spread to various prisons and Varavara Rao, who is extremely vulnerable to catch this epidemic, can face a life-threatening situation."

Vendetta
The party trained its guns on the Central government saying the "Maharashtra government, ruling in the name of Shivaji, must rise to the occasion and immediately admit Varavara Rao to a well-equipped hospital."

The party tore into the Central government saying, "It is evident that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is being misused for political vendetta. It is just to show Maharashtra Chief Minister 'his place' that the NIA has been told to take over this case. The Uddhav Thackeray government should not fall prey to the Machiavellian machinations of the Centre that it would be the Maharashtra government which would be put in the dock, in case something unfortunate and untoward happens."

BJP hits back
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson, Niranjan Shetty, retaliated to the allegations. He said, "The state government is formed by all the opposition parties who are either directly or indirectly supporting it from inside or outside."

Shetty added, "There is no way any government can have a say once the judicial process begins and this case is now subjudice. The decision to give the prisoner medical benefits solely depends upon the jailor and doctor in the prison on whose recommendations such hospitalisation can be possible. The accusations towards the BJP are nothing but another attempt to malign it because of a prejudiced mindset. They should submit a request to the jailor and state government which was formed with their mute support."

Varavara Rao moves HC for bail

Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, on Monday approached the Bombay High Court seeking temporary bail owing to his deteriorating medical condition and the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

The 80-year-old activist also sought a direction from the court to the prison authorities to produce his medical records.

Rao filed two petitions in the HC through his advocate R Satyanarayan Iyer, one challenging a June 26 order passed by the special NIA court rejecting his bail plea and the second seeking a direction to the authorities of Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai to produce his medical records.

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