Varavara Rao COVID +ve; Kin Say Hosp Left Him in ‘Pool of Urine’

Varavara Rao was shifted to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital a few days back.

Updated
India
3 min read

Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
Video Producer: Debayan Dutta

Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao, who has been in prison in the Elgar Parishad case for over two years, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Seventy-nine-year-old Rao was taken to the Maharashtra government-run JJ Hospital in Mumbai after he complained of dizziness on the night of Monday, 13 July.

Sources have confirmed to The Quint that Rao has been shifted from JJ Hospital to St George’s Hospital, which is designated for COVID-19 positive cases.

According to a report in The Indian Express, J J Hospital Dean Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar said the Covid-19 test was carried out on Rao as a precautionary measure. “He is showing no symptoms. His breathing is normal and all his medical parameters are stable,” the dean said.

“St George Hospital authorities said Rao’s oxygen saturation levels, blood pressure and fever were found normal. However, with Rao suffering from other health complications, he has been admitted in ICU,” the news report stated.

Rao has moved the Bombay High Court against a special NIA court in Mumbai rejecting his interim bail plea on medical grounds.

Family Alleges Rao Found in ‘Pool of Urine’ at Hospital

In shocking details that have emerged from a press statement released by Human Rights Defenders Alert, Rao’s family has alleged there was no medical attendant present in JJ Hospital’s transit ward and he was found lying nearly unconscious in a pool of urine.

According to the letter, “Mr Rao was lying in a pool of urine on the bed and was still incoherent.” He took some time to recognise his wife and daughters who met him on 15 July at the hospital ward.

The letter goes on to allege, “The family was told by the nurses that no equipment or treatment was given in the transit ward to the patient. When his nephew tried to change his urine-soaked bed sheets, the family was thrown out by the hospital staff.”

HRDA’s letter, signed by national working secretary Henri Tiphagne, has urged the National Human Rights Commission to ensure he is transferred to a super speciality hospital and all medical expenses are borne by the state, as per the suggestion of Rao’s family.

Press statement on Varavara Rao’s health condition
Press statement on Varavara Rao’s health condition
(Image via HRDA)
Varavara Rao COVID +ve; Kin Say Hosp Left Him in ‘Pool of Urine’
(Image via HRDA)

His family, while addressing a virtual press conference on 12 July, had said that while he is alive and fighting, they are very much worried about his deteriorating health.

Earlier, Rao’s daughter P Pavana had said, “He has been keeping unwell for quite some time now, however, recent telephonic conversations with him have suggested that his health is precarious.”

Rao’s family, including his wife and daughters, said they’d been informed by Rao’s co-accused companion, Gautam Navlakha, that he needs assistance to walk and even brush his teeth.

Rao's plea is still pending before the Bombay HC.

Demands For Immediate Release of Rao

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a network of several civil society, trade union, students and civil rights groups, has sought immediate release of veteran poet-activist Varavara Rao.

Also seeking release of all political prisoners, in a statement, CASR said, “Instead of making arrangements for immediate medical care and treatment, the Taloja Jail authorities denied him medical care.”

“The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) demands the immediate release of the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao who has tested positive for Covid-19,” the statement reads.

“As per information received by family members, Varavara Rao’s health has rapidly deteriorated over the last couple of weeks. This is also evidenced by his weakening physical state, incoherent speech and inability to independently perform daily or bodily functions,”

CASR also stated, “The National Investigation Agency (NIA) worked overtime to block all efforts for the release of those incarcerated under the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case despite the heightened threat of a Covid-19 infection in cramped jails.”

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