Don’t kill Varavara Rao in jail, wife and daughters of 79 year old poet urge

Wife and daughters of Telugu poet and activist Pendyala Varavara Rao, who is currently in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail in the Bhima Koregaon case, told media his life is in danger and appealed the Centre and the Maharashtra government to provide him with immediate medical care.

79-year-old revolutionary poet Rao has been in jail for over 22 months. His bail pleas, including those filed for relief on the ground of his age, ill-health and risk of COVID-19, have been rejected on multiple occasion.

In a press note titled: DON’T KILL VARA VARA RAO IN JAIL, Rao’s family said he has been in poor health ever since he was shifted in an unconscious state from JJ Hospital to Taloja jail on 28 May.

“His life is the top most concern for us right now. Our present demand is to save his life. We demand the government to shift him to a better hospital or allow us to provide required medical care. We want to remind the government that it has no right to deny the right to life of any person, much less an undertrial prisoner,” Rao’s family urged Government.

Family members’ concern was sparked by a routine phone call on Saturday evening in which Rao went into a kind of “delirious and hallucinated” talk about the funerals of his mother and father, which occurred 70 and 40 years ago respectively.

“As an eloquent and articulate public speaker and writer in Telugu for over five decades, a Telugu teacher for four decades and known for his meticulous memory, this fumbling, incoherence and loss of memory were in themselves strange and frightening,” Rao’s wife Hemalatha, daughters Sahaja, Anala and Pavana said in a joint statement.

“His co-accused companion took the phone from him and informed us that he is not able to walk, go to toilet and brush his teeth on his own. We were also told that he is always hallucinating that we, family members, were waiting at the jail gate to receive him as he was getting released,” family’s press release reads.

Family demanded that Rao needs immediate medical care for not only physical but also neurological issues. The confusion, loss of memory and incoherence are the results of electrolyte imbalance and fall of Sodium and Potassium levels leading to brain damage. This electrolyte imbalance may be fatal also.

“At the present juncture we are leaving aside all the pertinent facts like, that the case against him is fabricated; he had to spend 22 months in jail as an undertrial with the process turned into punishment; his bail petitions got rejected at least five times now and even the bail petitions with his age, ill-health and Covid vulnerability as grounds were ignored,” they said.