Activist, writer and poet P Varavara Rao, arrested in connection with Elgar Parishad case at Lashkar Police Station in Pune on November 18, 2018.(PTI)
Activist, writer and poet P Varavara Rao, arrested in connection with Elgar Parishad case at Lashkar Police Station in Pune on November 18, 2018.(PTI)

Varavara Rao fell from bed, unable to do anything on his own; allow us to help: Family to state

The family demanded that the entire process related to Rao’s treatment should be made transparent and the family should be informed officially by the authorities.
By K A Y Dodhiya | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 21, 2020 12:05 AM IST

The family of 81-year-old Telugu poet P Varavara Rao, booked in the Elghar Parishad case, asked the state government for regular updates on the veteran’s health and to allow a family member to assist him with his activities, as he is unable to do anything on his own.

“While he was shifted from Taloja Jail to JJ Hospital to St George Hospital to Nanavati Hospital during the last one week, the family got an official information only when he was tested Covid positive. All the other information is known to the family through secondary sources,” read the statement signed by Rao’s three daughters P Sahaja, P Anala and P Pavana. “Not sharing health updates of a person in judicial custody with his family is illegal, unconstitutional and inhuman,” the petition further said.

“The information of shifting him to Nanavati Hospital and worrying news of health status and deterioration for the last two days, including Nanavati finding a head injury, was known to family through friends in media and civil society only. In the absence of official and transparent information, various speculations, rumours and half-truths are also being spread causing further anxiety to family and friends,” the statement added.

The family demanded that the entire process related to Rao’s treatment should be made transparent and the family should be informed officially by the authorities. The family also asked for Rao’s test reports and a contact from the authority and hospital for regular update on Rao.

Meanwhile, the Bombay high court (HC) asked the state and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take instructions on whether Rao’s family can see him from a distance at Nanavati Hospital, as his condition is said to be extremely critical. Rao suffers from neurological issues, and was transferred to Nanavati Hospital from the state-run St George Hospital early on Sunday morning.

Pasbola informed the court that Rao could be “on the doors of death”, and hence, his bail application should be expedited. The court asked the state and NIA to respond by Wednesday, after which they will hear the bail application on Thursday.

“Mr Rao is in an extremely critical condition and it can be said that he is almost on the verge of death. Hence, his wife, through an affidavit filed on July 15, requested permission to see him,” submitted Rao’s counsel Sudeep Pasbola. He added that in the light of Rao’s critical condition and the request made by his wife, the court should decide on his bail application expeditiously.

Pasbola informed a division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice PV Tavade that Rao’s health was declining since the time he was in Taloja jail, and worsened after he was shifted to Sir JJ Hospital last week. Pasbola said that even as Rao was tested positive for Covid-19, his other ailments were also getting aggravated. He further said that owing to his deteriorating health, Rao also fell from the hospital bed at JJ Hospital and suffered injuries to his head.

Owing to the gravity of Rao’s health, the issues raised in a petition filed by advocate R Satyanarayan, seeking an inquiry against the Taloja jail superintendent, did not come up for hearing. Satyanarayan’s petition alleged that the jail authorities did not comply with the prescription issued by Sir JJ Hospital doctors when Rao was admitted there in May, as a result of which his condition deteriorated and he became delirious and confused – a fact which was confirmed by his wife and daughters after they spoke to him on July 11.

However, additional solicitor general Anil Singh, who appeared for NIA, submitted that after it came to light that Rao suffered head injuries after falling from the cot, he was rushed to the multispeciality Nanavati Hospital, where he is getting the best possible treatment. Singh added that Rao was being taken care of as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.

After hearing the submission the court observed, “We are not doubting your bona fide but please take instructions if family members of Rao can visit or see him at the hospital from a reasonable distance,” the bench said.

However, Singh submitted that as far as the guidelines are considered, no such visits to Covid-19 patients are allowed. Public prosecutor Deepak Thakare submitted that the video-conferencing facility could be utilised if the family wanted to interact with Rao. Both Singh and Thakare informed the court that they would take instructions and hence the hearing on the bail application and petition should be adjourned to a later date.

The court after accepting the statements by NIA and state’s counsels said it would not be passing orders on merits and directed Singh and Thakare to take instructions and posted the matters for further hearing on Thursday.

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Image for representation. (AP)
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