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13 Jul 2020

PUDR is shocked to learn of the deteriorating condition of P. Varavara Rao in Taloja Jail. His family has held a press conference on July 12, 2020 drawing attention to his almost delirious and incoherent speech evident in his recent phone calls. His co-accused attendant has informed that Varavara Rao is unable to walk or look after himself.

By now, it has become standard for the NIA Special Prosecutor to argue that Varavara Rao is not suffering from any life-threatening disease, that he, like a few others accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, is using the Covid issue to harp on his advanced age and medical vulnerabilities, and that none of them is eligible for bail as they are arrested under UAPA. So far, courts in Pune, Mumbai and Gadchiroli have rejected as many as five bail applications by Varavara Rao (April 2019, November 2019, March 2020 and twice in June 2020). In April 2019, he was not allowed to attend his sister-in-law’s funeral as it was feared that he would abscond or that the police party might by ambushed by Maoists. Most recently, despite being hospitalized in a city hospital after falling unconscious on May 28, 2020, his bail application was turned down primarily because he was shown as stable as per the Taloja Jail medical report. A similar plea was used by the District Government Pleader before a Gadchiroli sessions court in June 2020, before which Varavara Rao had sought bail in a case in which he was made a co-accused after his arrest in October 2018.

It is amply clear that the jail administration has not lived up to its responsibility of taking care of those in its custody. Further, in this context, the attempts to block the bail applications of an ailing 81-year-old tantamount to risking his life. PUDR demands that Varavara Rao be released immediately and that no restrictions be placed on his access to proper medical care.

Radhika Chitkara and Vikas Kumar

Secretaries, PUDR.