Mumbai: Poet-activist Varavara Rao, jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case, will be shifted to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital for 15 days, the Bombay High Court said today in response to a plea from his wife. The 80-year-old has been lodged in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja Jail after his arrest in 2018.
Arguing on his behalf, senior lawyer Indira Jaising said Varavara Rao had sustained head injuries at the JJ Hospital, where he was admitted earlier when he tested positive for Coronavirus.
“He (Varavara Rao) is completely bed-ridden, and has no medical attendant. He is in diapers and has a catheter. The catheter was not changed for three months, as there was no one to change it,” Ms Jaisingh said.
“There is a reasonable apprehension that he (Varavara Rao) will die in custody,” Ms Jaising said. “I am alleging negligence on part of the state. If the state is unable to look after him, he needs to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital,” she added.
The Bombay High Court was to hear the matter on Tuesday but after technical problems during an online hearing, a physical hearing in court was held today.
Earlier, the court had directed a team from Nanavati Hospital to examine him via video conferencing and visit him in hospital if necessary without delay.
Raising questions on the medical report submitted, Ms Jaisingh said the neurologist and the urologist have not seen Varavara Rao though he has neurological problems and urinary infection.
The report submitted was a “complete eyewash” , Ms Jaisingh said, adding that Varavara Rao has to be seen by specialists and experts.
The poet-activist was arrested in 2018 and charged under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA, which allows detention without trial for years.
Nine other activists were accused of plotting the violence with Maoists and provocative speeches were allegedly made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017. The police claimed it led to violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial and the case is currently being probed by the National Investigation agency.
After another activist arrested in the case, Stan Swamy, flagged Varavara Rao’s health condition, his family moved the Supreme Court, which ordered that Bombay High Court look into the matter.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat said the matter raises questions regarding the prisoner’s human rights. The bench also took note of the fact that his bail application has not been heard by the High Court since September 17.