'First Step Towards Acquittal': Varavara Rao's Family on Bail by Supreme Court

Varavara Rao, 83, had been in prison in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case.

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On 10 August, the Supreme Court granted bail to Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao, who has been waiting for a respite on medical grounds for 19 months. His family, however, thinks the 83-year-old's fight is far from over.

Rao, who is accused in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case, was first shifted to Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital in November 2020, as his health had deteriorated in Taloja Central Prison.

"In today's mood, I am hopeful that he will come back home," Rao's daughter P Pavana told The Quint. "This is only the first step. We are hoping that he will be allowed to come to Hyderabad and be with his family. And finally, we are hoping that he will be acquitted in this case," N Venugopal, Varavara Rao's nephew, told The Quint.


'Big Relief, but Home Is Waiting'

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Rao for the rest of the trial duration "purely on medical grounds," but has not allowed him to leave Mumbai, Maharashtra, where he has been residing with his wife Hemalatha for over a year.

His family has also filed a special leave petition requesting the SC to allow him to return to Hyderabad, where his two daughters Anala and Pavana live with their families.

"In Telangana, the state government gives free medical treatment to pensioners. But in Maharashtra, living and medical expenses are unaffordable for us," Pavana said.

Rao had retired as a teacher from a government-aided intermediate college and receives the Telangana government's pension. "In Mumbai, his living expenditure has been double that of his pension. Apart from that, he has had to spend Rs 4 lakh for two surgeries that he had to undergo," Venugopal said.

In Hyderabad, he used to live with his daughters who have their own homes in the city. "Moreover, we feel that his health will improve if he gets back home," said Pavana.

The Bhima Koregaon case, which was first being investigated by the Maharashtra Police, was transferred to the National Investigation Agency. One of the accused in the case, Fr Stan Swamy, died at the age of 84 while in judicial custody. In 2021, media reports suggested that evidence was planted on the laptops of accused Surendra Gadling and Rona Wilson.


'Unable To Walk, Early Onset of Parkinson's, Hearing Affected'

Rao, who has several ailments that got worse while he was incarcerated, has been in the care of his wife Hemalatha, who is 73 years old. Hemalatha is also suffering from hypertension and other age-related medical conditions, the couple's family said.

"My mother cannot take care of him as she herself is unwell and aged," Pavana said. When Rao got infected with COVID-19, the family was worried that Hemalatha would also contract the virus. "We had to bring her back to Hyderabad because we were worried for her," Pavana said.

Rao, who used to be a prolific writer, can no longer write, as his hands shake when he attempts to, his family said. "His hearing is affected and he is not able to walk much," Venugopal added.

Rao also struggles with other ailments including cataract, which affects eyesight, and hernia, which affects the intestines. "While surgeries were conducted for these, he needs to get follow-up medical care, which can be provided only if he reaches Hyderabad," Pavana explained.

Rao also needs to be near his kith and kin as this will help with the symptoms of dementia that he had shown when he was in Taloja Prison.

"Currently, his memory is fine. But we strongly believe that closeness of family will prevent a relapse of dementia," Pavana said.

Owing to the expenditure that he has been incurring in Mumbai, Rao is about Rs 8 lakh in debt, his family said. "Now that he has got bail, a glimmer of hope is there that he will finally come home," Pavana added.

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Topics:  Telangana   Hyderabad    Supreme Court 

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