P Varavara Rao and Sudhir Dhawale, two of the nine accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, are escorted by police to court for a hearing, in Mumbai.(PTI file photo)
P Varavara Rao and Sudhir Dhawale, two of the nine accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, are escorted by police to court for a hearing, in Mumbai.(PTI file photo)

Elgar Parishad case: Varavara Rao moves HC against NIA court’s rejection of interim bail plea

P Varavara Rao had sought interim bail on the grounds of his failing health condition due to his advanced age and susceptibility to contracting coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which is sweeping through Maharashtra, and especially in and around Mumbai.
By K A Y Dodhiya | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2020 07:35 PM IST

Dr. P Varavara Rao (81), a Telugu writer and poet, who is lodged at Navi Mumbai’s Taloja Jail in connection with the 2018 Elgar Parishad case, has moved the Bombay high court (HC) against the order of the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, which had rejected his interim bail application on June 26.

Rao had sought interim bail on the grounds of his failing health condition due to his advanced age and susceptibility to contracting SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which is sweeping through Maharashtra, and especially in and around Mumbai.

Though the court was slated to hear his case on July 17, his lawyers have sought an urgent hearing on Tuesday after his family members raised an alarm about his health condition after speaking with Rao over the phone on Saturday.

They found him to be incoherent and suffering from hallucinations.

On Sunday, his family members held a press conference via a video-link and quoted a fellow inmate about Rao’s poor health condition, who told them that he is unable to even walk up to a washroom on his own.

The special NIA court did not consider the plea that Rao was admitted to JJ Hospital on May 28 after he had lost his consciousness.

The hospital authorities had released him in haste because his interim bail plea was coming up for a hearing in the special NIA court.

The NIA, which had taken over the Elgar Parishad case from Pune Police in February, had opposed the bail plea, as Rao was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, where there is no provision to grant him temporary bail.

NIA had submitted that the jail authorities could be directed to ensure that Rao was provided proper medical attention, whenever required.

Another petition has also been moved by Rao, through advocates R Sathyanarayanan and Susan Abraham, on Monday against the superintendent of Taloja Jail for not complying with the prescription of JJ Hospital to conduct regular medical check-ups, and, as a result, his health condition has further worsened.

The petition has sought the directions to the jail authorities to produce all medical reports of Rao and also submit the course of action adopted by them after June 2 to take care of his frail health condition.

Directions have also been sought to send Rao for advanced medical check-ups at the earliest to a private hospital at his own expense.

The petition is expected to come up for hearing later in July.

Earlier, on January 1, 2018, violence erupted between Dalits and Marathas near the village of Bhima Koregaon in Pune district, where thousands of Dalits had gathered to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon.

In that battle, the British Army’s Dalit Mahar soldiers had defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire.

The commemoration took place a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was held.

The Pune Police conducted a preliminary probe and claimed that the violence in Bhima Koregaon was the result of speeches made at the Elgar Parishad event.

They alleged that banned Maoist groups organised the event, and a first information report (FIR) was also filed.

In June 2018, the Pune Police arrested five activists and lawyers from Pune, Nagpur, and Delhi -- SurendraGadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Shoma Sen --- for their alleged links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and also for organising the Elgar Parishad event.

In August 2018, the police arrested four more activists --- Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao.

While Gautam Navlakha and Dr.Anand Teltumbde were arrested on April 14 this year, taking the total number of the accused in the case to 11.

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