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Freedom for Varavara Rao and Prof. Saibaba. Raos’wife denounces and Saibaba is starting hunger strike!

Varavara Rao’s Continued Custody Amounts to Inhuman Treatment, Says Wife in SC Petition

Pendyala Hemalatha’s petition said the writer and poet should be granted bail, citing various health issues that he is facing.Varavara Rao's Continued Custody Amounts to Inhuman Treatment, Says Wife in SC Petition

A file image of Varavara Rao.

The Wire Staff

The Wire StaffLawRights

New Delhi: The wife of Telugu poet and writer Varavara Rao, arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, moved the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking bail for him, claiming that his continued custody amounted to cruel and inhuman treatment.

The petition, filed by Pendyala Hemalatha, urged the court that during the pendency of the petition, the 81-year-old accused be released on temporary medical bail and be allowed to travel to Hyderabad to be with his family and loved ones.

It sought the immediate release of Rao on the ground that his continued custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, violating Article 21 of the Constitution (life or personal liberty) and violative of his dignity in custody.

The plea said that he has lost about 18 kg and is suffering from various health issues and is “basically bed-ridden”.

The plea said: “The health condition of the Petitioner’s husband is very feeble and he suffers from various co-morbidities. It is submitted that it is well known that COVID-19 patients do not have similar symptoms. It is further known that COVID-19 hampers all organs including neurological or/ and every patient displays different symptoms.”

The petition says that when Rao was arrested on August 28, 2018, he had no neurological problems. “It is therefore highly likely that COVID-19 and the fall that he had in St. George Hospital has led to neurological problems as reflected in the medical report filed by Nanavati Hospital dated July 30,” it adds.

The petition, filed by advocate Sunil Fernandes, said that considering the co-morbidity factors of age, persistent hyponatremia in COVID-19 case, the patient will require close monitoring.

Earlier when he was discharged, he was advised to undergo sodium test, which apparently had not been done by the jail authorities.

The petition says that after Rao was hospitalised on May 27, he was “hurriedly discharged” in June, while his bail plea on the ground of his medical problems and COVID-19 was pending. This was despite the fact that he needed constant follow ups and the move was only to “avoid judicial determination of his bail on medical grounds”, the petition says.

The petition says Rao’s health condition continues to be precarious.

Rao lacks bowel and urine control, the petition says, adding that he has a catheter urine bag and has to use diapers. He is being given swab baths by the co-accused as he is ‘basically bed-ridden’, the petition says, adding that Rao’s mental status is also not sound.

Rao was among several activists and lawyers who were arrested by the Pune Police in the Elgar Parishad case in 2018. The case has been transferred to the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which has subsequently arrested more activists and academics, with Stan Swamy the latest to be taken into custody.

With Swamy’s arrest, 16 people have been arrested in connection with the case. Those arrested earlier were Sudhir Dhawale, a writer and Mumbai-based Dalit rights activist; Mahesh Raut, a young activist from Gadchiroli who worked on displacement; Shoma Sen, who was the head of the English literature department at Nagpur University; advocates Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj; Varavara Rao; activist Vernon Gonsalves; prisoners’ rights activist Rona Wilson; Surendra Gadling, a UAPA expert and lawyer from Nagpur; Delhi University professor Hany Babu; and Kabir Kala Manch artists Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap.

G.N. Saibaba to Go on Hunger Strike in Nagpur Prison to Protest Denial of Essentials

The former DU professor’s wife A.S. Vasantha Kumari said he has been denied access to reading material, medicines and clothes.G.N. Saibaba to Go on Hunger Strike in Nagpur Prison to Protest Denial of Essentials

G.N. Saibaba. Photo: PTI

The Wire Staff

The Wire StaffGovernmentLawRights

New Delhi: Professor G.N. Saibaba, who is serving a life term in the Nagpur Central Prison for alleged links with Maoists, has decided to go on a hunger strike from October 21 as he is not been provided with clothes, medicines and books for a month.

According to a Hindu report, Saibaba’s wife A.S. Vasantha Kumari has said he has been denied access to reading material, medicines and clothes. “Saibaba who is lodged in jail since 2014 has been denied all basic human rights where he is not given any letters or allowed any phone calls from me since over a month,” she said.

Kumari has sent letters about “the hardships and harassment Saibaba faces in jail” and the “unfair restrictions” imposed on him to the Maharashtra additional director general of prisons Sunil Ramanand and the superintendent of prisons (Nagpur) Anupkumar Kumre.

“Sometimes all the medicines given by his advocates are not being given to him. He has multiple health problems and needs to take prescribed medicines every day to save his life,” Kumari told The Telegraph.

Advocate Aakash Sarode, who regularly delivers medicines, clothes to Saibaba, said that last month he had delivered a shirt, under garments, medicines, four books and two notepads for him. “However none of it was taken by the prison authorities, without giving any reason for the same. I went back again two weeks back but they refused to take anything I got. I will try going once again before October 21,” Sarode said.

Kumre, however, denied the “baseless allegations” according to The Hindu‘s report and confirmed that Saibaba was going on hunger strike from October 21. “Due to coronavirus we have stopped taking newspapers in jail since March but other than that books and letters are given to him after we go through them and decide on what is ‘right’ and needs to be given to him,” he said.

Clarifying what was considered “right”, Kumre said, “the administration (which includes the SP, Additional SP and another prison official) verifies the books and sees if they are “nice”,” and added that books on Gandhi, freedom fighters or mythology were usually allowed. “A magazine or any other reading matter has to be ‘correct’ for the inmate. As far as clothes are concerned, due to coronavirus we have stopped allowing any civil clothes inside the jail as it spreads the virus,” he said.

ADG (Prisons) Sunil Ramanand said that “the DIG is going to Nagpur jail tomorrow to ascertain the situation.”

In March 2017, a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district convicted Saibaba and four others, including a journalist and a Jawaharlal Nehru University student, for Maoist links and engaging in activities amounting to “waging war against the country”.

The court held Saibaba and others guilty under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The ailing activist had recently filed a plea seeking bail on medical grounds as well as to meet his mother, who was suffering from cancer, in Hyderabad. The bail was denied by the Bombay high court four days before his mother passed away.

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