Can’t afford Mumbai rent, says Varavara Rao’s family on court’s bail condition
The family of octogenarian Pendyala Varavara Rao, noted revolutionary poet, is relieved that the Bombay High Court on Monday granted medical bail to him in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, but it has another worry on its hands: where to house him in Mumbai. The court order said that the poet cannot go back to Hyderabad, his home.
“It is really a big relief for all of us that he would be out of jail after a gap of more than two-and-a-half years. But it is unfortunate that the court did not grant him permission to return to his home in Hyderabad during the bail period,” Rao’s brother-in-law N Venugopal, who is also a poet and writer, said.
While observing that it was a "genuine and fit" case for granting relief to Rao in view of his advanced age and inadequate facilities in the jail, the high court refused to allow him to go to Hyderabad, saying “sending him back to where he belongs is fraught with the risk of his presence being used by those allegedly associated with him”.
Rao was also directed not to issue any statements or speak to the media, both print and electronic.
Rao’s wife Hemalatha, who is waging a legal battle in the court against his arrest, is presently in Mumbai, awaiting his release. “The court has asked him to furnish a bail bond of ₹50,000 and we are in the process of completing those formalities. We are expecting that he would be released by Tuesday,” Venugopal said.
Brother-in-law Venugopal said Rao has no relatives in Mumbai who could take care of him during the bail period.
“It is a tricky situation for the family. He cannot afford to take a house on rent to stay there. And given the sensitivity of the case, we are not sure he would even get a house on rent in Mumbai. Since he doesn’t require hospitalisation, he cannot be kept in hospital either,” Venugopal said.
Rao’s three daughters – Sahaja, Anala and Pavana – have their own families in Hyderabad. “They have to go to Mumbai in turns to take care of their father. In the given situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is risky for them, too,” he said.
According to Venugopal, there are two more cases pending against Rao – one in connection with a 2005 Maoist attack case in Pavagada in Kolar district of Karnataka and another case of trucks burning at Gadchiroli in Maharashtra in 2016. The revolutionary poet has been facing trial in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case of January 1, 2018, and also on charges of being part of a plot hatched by Maoists to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He was arrested by the Pune police first in August 2018 and after he was released on bail following a court order, he was rearrested in November 2018. He was first lodged in the Yeravada Jail in Pune and later moved to Taloja jail in Mumbai.
In May, Rao tested positive for Covid-19 and was shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja jail.
In July last year, his family members issued a statement saying Rao’s health condition deteriorated and he appeared to be in a state of delirium and hallucination. “He was talking about the funeral of his father and mother, the events that happened seven decades and four decades ago respectively,” Hemalatha said.