Elgar Parishad case: Varavara Rao only accused to secure bail on health grounds, others still in jail

The Bombay HC had in February this year granted Varavara Rao conditional bail for six months considering his medical condition.
Poet-activist Varavara Rao (Photo | PTI)
Poet-activist Varavara Rao (Photo | PTI)

MUMBAI: The death of the 84-year-old Jesuit priest and activist Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, at a hospital here while fighting a legal battle for bail on health grounds, has left many shocked, but there are 11 other accused arrested in connection with the same case who continue to remain lodged in jails for the past three years.

Poet-activist Varavara Rao (81) is the only accused in the case to have secured an interim bail.

The Bombay High Court had in February this year granted Rao conditional bail for six months considering his medical condition.

Rao had been in jail since his arrest in August 2018.

Another accused Hany Babu is presently admitted at the Breach Candy hospital at his own expense after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Prominent among other accused, namely Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira are still behind bars.

Except for Bharadwaj, all the other accused remain lodged at the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai.

Bharadwaj, 58, is currently lodged in Mumbai's Byculla prison since her arrest in the case in August 2018.

Last month, she filed a bail plea in the high court on the ground that the chargesheet in the case was not filed within the mandatory 90-day period and hence she was entitled for a default bail as per the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

In May, Bharadwaj's daughter Maaysha Singh had filed a petition seeking bail for her mother on medical grounds stating that prisoners are entitled to access their medical records and should be allowed to make a phone call to a family member after a hospital visit.

The HC disposed of the plea after Singh's lawyer submitted that Bharadwaj had received medical treatment.

In May last year, Bharadwaj had sought interim bail before the lower court citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea was rejected.

Activist Gautam Navlakha, 70, was arrested in October 2018 after remaining under house detention for a month.

His bail plea was recently rejected by the Supreme Court.

In December last year, Navlakha's family had claimed that Taloja prison officials, where he is lodged, had refused to accept a parcel containing new spectacles for him as his had been stolen in jail.

All these accused were booked in connection with the 2017 Pune Elgar Parishad case.

Investigators had alleged that inflammatory and provocative speeches were made at this conclave on December 31, 2017, triggering violence at Koregaon Bhima in the Pune district the next day.

The police had also alleged that the event was backed by some Maoist groups.

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