NHRC issues notice to Maharashtra govt over Varavara Rao's health, tells state to bear expenses for treatment

The NHRC on Friday directed the Maharashtra state chief secretary and D-G of prisons to submit a report about Varavara Rao’s health condition within two weeks

FP Staff July 17, 2020 20:36:56 IST
NHRC issues notice to Maharashtra govt over Varavara Rao's health, tells state to bear expenses for treatment

The National Human Rights Commission on Friday issued a notice to the Maharashtra government on jailed Telugu poet P Varvara Rao's health, following outrage over the conditions in which he was kept at a state-run hospital in Mumbai, reports said.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, taking cognisance of a complaint filed by its special monitor Maja Daruwala, the NHRC on Friday issued notice to Maharashtra chief secretary Sanjay Kumar and Director-General (DG) of prisons in Maharashtra SN Pandey.

"The commission has directed them to submit a report about Rao’s health condition within two weeks after the undertrial tested COVID-19 positive a day ago," the report said.

According to BBC, the commission has ordered the state to move Rao to a private facility for treatment and also said that the expenses relating to Rao's treatment would be borne by the state as he was an under trial prisoner and therefore it's their responsibility.

Eighty-year-old Rao, who tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, was found lying in a "urine-soaked bed" and unattended at the state-run JJ Hospital in Mumbai, according to media reports which quoted family members of the jailed activist as saying

Eighty-year-old Rao has been in jail for about 22 months. He and nine other activists have been arrested in relation to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on 31 December, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial.

Rao has denied all the charges. The case was initially probed by Pune Police and later transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

According to a report in Live Law, the commission's order said: "It is a question of saving a precious human life leaving apart the legal aspects of the matter. It is, therefore, necessary that the State Government should provide Rao the best possible treatment in a reputed specialty private hospital without any further delay."

On Thursday, writers, activists as well as Opposition leaders took to Twitter to express their dismay over Rao's conditions.

Rao, who hails from Telangana, was shifted to the JJ Hospital in south Mumbai on Monday night after he complained of giddiness and was later admitted to its neurology department.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was among the Congress leaders who questioned the State, prison authorities and the police over Rao's condition.

The condition of Rao as described by his family as a matter of grave concern, the former finance minister had said in a series of tweets.

"It is beyond belief that the State, the police and the prison authorities can behave in such an inhuman manner under the watch of the NHRC," he added.

Reiterating the demand to release the poet, that echoed on social media since reports of Rao's conditions and him testing positive for COVID-19 spread, the senior Congress leader too sought the poet's immediate release and urged the authorities to immediately admit him at a super specialty hospital "that will treat him properly".

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