A total of 145 eminent scholars and academicians have appealed from around the world for the immediate release of 81-year-old Telugu poet, literary critic Varavara Rao, who has been accused of inciting caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon which happened on January 1, 2018, along with 10 other activists and academicians and also been tested positive for Covid-19.
Immediate release of all the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case have been sought by Philosopher and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics emeritus, MIT, English economist Barbara Harriss White, Emeritus Professor and Fellow Wolfson College, Oxford University and Dr Hugo Gorringe, Co-Director Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK amongst the 145 eminent scholars.
“Varavara Rao, poet, writer, activist and long-time speaker of truth to power have been imprisoned for two years now, along with ten other scholar-activists. They have been charged with inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon, a charge widely regarded as false, and over the past two years, the government has failed to bring the charges to court and start the trial. Conditions in the jails in which these prisoners of conscience have been kept are said to be unhealthy and the threat of the spread of infection has grown. Mr Rao, who is 80 years old*, has now tested positive for COVID-19 and is seriously ill with several comorbidities. His condition suggests clear neglect of his health by the authorities. We join other international scholars in appealing for the immediate release of Varavara Rao and the other Elgar Parishad activists.”– The statement
But, as confirmed by his immediate family, Varavara Rao is 81-years-old.
Background of Varavara Rao’s CASE
Applications seeking bail on multiple occasions on medical grounds have been rejected all the time. During the Emergency imposed in 1975 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) the octogenarian was also arrested on charges of inciting violence through his writing.
All the names mentioned have been accused of having Maoist links and booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Along with Varavara Rao , Journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, lawyer and unionist Sudha Bharadwaj, lawyer and dalit rights activist Surendra Gadling, activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Rona Wilson, Assistant Professor Of English at Nagpur University Shoma Sen, tribal rights activist Mahesh Raut, academic Vernon Gonsalves, scholar and writer Anand Teltumbde, lawyer and activist Arun Ferreira have been booked.
On 20 July 2020, Varavara Rao was shifted to Nanavati Hospital from the state-run St.George’s hospital as he fell at St.George’s and injured his head severely. The said incident was not informed to the family and got to know from newspaper reports about the same., Rao’s family in a press release today demanded directions to the hospital administration or prison administration that as long as he is in the hospital to provide transparent, official updates on his health and the line of treatment being administered to him on a regular basis once or twice in a day.