MUMBAI: Family members of poet, writer and activist Varavara Rao, jailed in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case, appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to release him on parole amid the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state and in its prisons.
They appealed to Thackeray to release Rao granting temporary bail or parole on the grounds of age, health and the spread of the virus. The letter urged to make arrangements to ensure family members are allowed to visit him in jail to assure themselves of his safety and well-being, allow Rao to make more frequent phone calls and letters to the family, and allow advocates to meet him in the jail.
Rao is currently imprisoned in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. He was earlier lodged in Yerawada jail in Pune.
His three daughters P Sahaja, P Anala and P Pavana raised concerns on Rao’s health issue. Rao, 80, is suffering from multiple health issues and is vulnerable to the coronavirus, they said in the letter, highlighting a prisoner died in Taloja jail from the disease.
During the lockdown, the family members and lawyers were not allowed to visit Rao in jail, the daughters said in the letter. He was allowed to speak to his ailing wife infrequently for a duration of two minutes, they said. His right to life cannot be put at risk as he is an undertrial, they said.
The jail authorities did not respond to the family when they called to enquire about Rao’s health, following the news of the death of a prisoner there, it said.
Earlier, at least 40 prominent writers had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting the release of Rao amid the crisis.