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India: 80-year old renowned poet activist jailed and infected with Covid 19

National and international calls for his release

Monday 20 July 2020, by siawi3

Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/only-political-vendetta-can-explain-varavara-raos-incarceration

Only political vendetta can explain Varavara Rao’s incarceration

The revolutionary poet contracted Covid-19 while in jail facing trumped up charges like ’waging war against the nation’

Surabhi Agarwal and Sandeep Pandey

18 Jul 2020

Varavara Roa- Image: Gettyimages

The renowned Telugu poet and political activist Varavara Rao has been in police custody since November 18, 2018. The charges against him are: waging war against the state, conspiring to overthrow the government and plotting the assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Varavara Rao is one of India’s foremost intellectuals who has inspired three generations of activists, writers and students. He is one of the founders of the Viplava Rachayitala Sangham (Revolutionary Writers’ Association) or Virasam which has played a major role in the development of Telugu literature in the last half-century. His poetry - which speaks of the brutality of state and societal repression, and expresses an unwavering commitment to the struggle for social justice - has been translated into all major Indian languages.

According to a profile published on the Poetry International Archives website, in Varavara Rao’s poetry, “there is evidence not only of commitment to a cause but commitment to craft. These are poems of anger, of outrage, biting indictment certainly. But there is also a palette of tonal variety. For Rao is also a lyric poet whose work is capable of combining elegy with hope.”

In addition to being a poet, Varavara Rao is a renowned literary critic and translator. His PhD thesis ‘Telangana Liberation Struggle and the Telugu Novel: A Study Into Interconnections Between Society and Literature’ is regarded as one of the finest works of literary criticism in Telugu literature. He has also taught literature for 40 years, during which time he launched the popular literary magazine Srujan. The magazine provided a platform for the promotion of modern Telugu literature and was published for over 25 years until 1992.

The persecution Rao under the Modi regime comes, of course, as no surprise. Writers and poets have always been at the forefront of political dissent under authoritarian and autocratic governments and are always among the first voices to be suppressed during such times.

Varavara Rao is no stranger to harassment and imprisonment by the state. He was first arrested in 1973 because the revolutionary nature of his poetry was seen as a threat by the government. At that time the Andhra Pradesh High Court had ordered his release, stating that writers cannot be arrested for simply giving expression to their imagination. He was arrested again in 1974 and then in 1985 but was on both occasions eventually acquitted of all charges.

When the Emergency was imposed in the country in 1975, Rao - who had recently got out of jail on bail after being charged in the Secunderabad Conspiracy Case - was promptly rearrested. 30 other members of Virasam were also sent to jail during this time. Refusing to be silenced, they kept their struggle alive by collaborating to launch a hand-written literary magazine for the prison inmates.

Rao has spent a total of 8 years in prison so far, but prison walls have never been able to restrict his artistic spirit. He has continued to write poetry and translate important literary works into the Telugu language even while incarcerated. In fact, almost half of the corpus of his writings has been composed in jail.

Varavara Rao’s most recent arrest was for his involvement in the Elgar Parishad rally which took place in December 2017. The event was alleged by police to have Maoist links and was held responsible for the Bhima Koregaon anti-Dalit violence that followed.

All ‘evidence’ against Rao in the case is based on some letters recovered from computer hard drives which were seized by the police from the homes of various political activists. The police failed to follow proper protocols during the raids and in the gathering of data from the hard drives. An investigation by Caravan Magazine has revealed that the hard drives contained a kind of spyware which allows their activity to be monitored and files to be planted on them from a remote source. Since then there have been reports of spyware attacks on several other activists as well. This strongly suggests that the evidence is fabricated.

The content of these letters led to the imprisonment of 10 others in addition to Varavara Rao: Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Sudha Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferriera, Vernon Gonsalves and Anand Teltumbde - all of whom are well-known social and political activists and have been openly critical of the Modi government.

Recently, in a letter addressed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, former information commissioners, Shailesh Gandhi and M. Sridharacharyulu, have stated that there is no implicating evidence against Varavara Rao. They have pointed out that the Pune police and the state investigation teams investigated the case for 16 weeks but could not collect “even an iota of evidence”.

The Maharashtra government, which recently came to power, had also declared that they would close his case file soon. But the union government hurriedly transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency, preventing any possibility of justice.

Mr Rao is now 80 years old. He recently developed major health complications. After a public outcry over his deteriorating health in the over-crowded Taloja Central Prison in Mumbai, he was finally hospitalised at the city’s JJ Hospital on July 13. His continued imprisonment under such circumstances, especially in the face of the risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, is completely unacceptable. He must be released and the charges against him dropped immediately.

It is a matter of shame that while dreaded criminals often receive political patronage in India and are able to remain outside prison even after having multiple cases filed against them, intellectuals like Varavara Rao are made to languish in jail. The failure of the government on various fronts like foreign policy, domestic law and order, tackling the coronavirus crisis or the associated problems of migrant workers and the sagging economy is partly because the Bharatiya Janata Party government has been busy pursuing the political agenda of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and acting with political vendetta against citizens who question the RSS-BJP ideology. What else could explain the incarceration of activists when the government is otherwise preventing mass gatherings by keeping educational institutions closed and asking people to remain at home? The string of vengeful actions taken by the state against citizens who participated in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens movement, all through the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown period, are a reflection of the priorities of our present government.

*The writers are associated with Socialist Party (India).

Related:

Varavara Rao tests Covid-19 positive!

Does India uphold Prisoners’ Right to Health?

Varavara Rao is in hospital today, but the risk to his life is not over: Family

Don’t Kill Varavara Rao in Jail!

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Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/varavara-rao-tests-covid-19-positive

Freedom
Varavara Rao tests Covid-19 positive!

The 79-year-old has been in jail since 2018, in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. Family calls it criminal negligence of the State.

Sabrangindia

16 Jul 2020

Varavara Rao

Friends, family, students and supporters of jailed revolutionary poet activist Varavara Rao had their worst fears confirmed on Thursday, when news came in that the 79-year-old had tested positive for Covid-19.

As soon as the news was confirmed, Rao’s nephew N Venugopal posted the information on social media, “Mumbai friends confirmed that Varavara Rao tested Covid positive. Criminal negligence of the state.”

According to the Indian Express, Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar, the dean of JJ Hospital, said Rao had “shown no symptoms of Covid-19 so far. He has no breathing difficulty and is stable. We will soon shift him to a Covid hospital.” Rao is likely to be shifted to St George hospital, stated the report.

The family however is extremely concerned about the callous treatment Varavara Rao has had been provided. They are hoping that the state government will shift him to a hospital that is well equipped to deal with his multiple complications since it’s the abysmal conditions in prison that have led him to catch the dreaded pandemic.

On Monday, 79-year-old Rao had been urgently shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja Jail as his health began worsening. His family was worried that the police may pressurise the hospital to discharge him once he stabilises and send him back to jail. According to his family, Rao had been incoherent and too weak to even sustain a phone call the last time they spoke. This had alarmed them to the extent that they urgently called a video press conference on Sunday, and appealed once again that he be rushed to a proper hospital and given urgent medical care he needed.

The family states that they were not informed by the jail authorities when Rao was shifted to JJ hospital and only came to know from elsewhere. According to his nephew, N Venugopal, Rao was then put through various medical tests, and even then the hospital said that Rao was “brought in for evaluation only”.

“Though it was mandatory to inform family about these developments, neither the government nor jail, police, hospital authorities did not provide any official information to the family,” said Venugopal.

Rao had been admitted at the same hospital on May 28 evening but was hurriedly discharged on June 1 and sent back to jail with a ‘comment’ that “His health is steady and all vitals normal”. However, Rao’s family maintained that he was not normal when he was discharged from hospital last time.

On Thursday, Madabhushi Sridhar, one of Rao’s students even wrote to Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao and appealed to him to intervene to help Rao get proper medical treatment at least. The letter was also posted on social media and read, “Our poet, my lecturer Shri P Varavara Rao is suffering in jail and hospitals. It is reported today that he is suffering from Covid19 positive (sic). Professor Jayashankar is a good friend of P Varavara Rao. As a principal of CKM College, he was trying to protect the job of Varavara Rao, (faculty of CKM College) when he was arrested during Emergency. Had Jayashankar and Kaloji been alive today, they would have certainly prevailed on you to get Varavara Rao released. I request you at least get him to a good hospital in Hyderabad for best treatment.” Sridhar has added that Rao’s students were willing to bear the medical costs, “Government need not spend its money for his treatment.” Sridhar requested the CM to “please speak to Union Home Minister and do something urgently to save life of Varavara Rao.”

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Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/save-his-life-poets-and-writers-appeal-president-india-help-varavara-rao

Freedom
Save his life: Poets and writers appeal to President of India to help Varavara Rao

Rao (79) is suffering from Covid-19, contracted due to abysmal conditions at Taloja jail, says family

Sabrangindia

17 Jul 2020

Varavara Roa

Poets, writers, human rights advocates, and citizens across the country are coming together and raising their voices in support of those seeking help for the ailing revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, who contracted Coronavirus while being incarcerated at Taloja Jail. When 79-year-old Rao’s health deteriorated rapidly he was shifted to JJ Hospital on Monday. He tested positive of Covid-19 on Thursday. His family was extremely concerned about the callous treatment Varavara Rao had been provided so far. They say that it’s the abysmal prison conditions that caused Rao to get infected.

On Friday, a group of noted writers and poets from Odisha wrote an open letter to the President of India to intervene and save the noted poet’s life. They wrote, “We express our deep concern on the apathetic attitude of the State towards proper and super special treatment and care of the jailed people’s poet Varavara Rao (81), presently at JJ Hospital, Mumbai. His condition is deteriorating rapidly. Further he has been tested positive for #COVID 19.

“His earlier pleas for interim bail concerning medical grounds citing his susceptibility to the virus due to age and various ailments have been twice rejected by the special NIA Court.

“We the writers and poets of Odisha solemnly request President of India for immediate intervention to save his life and release him along with other political prisoners presently behind the bar.”

The letter has been signed by scores of writers including: Kumar Hassan, Lenin Kumar, Akhil Naik, Jyoti Nanda, Bhima Prusti, Biswapriya Kanoongo, Ramakrishna Sahu, Pitambar Tarai, Bharat Majhi, Kedar Misha, Biraja Bal, Hussain Rabi Gandhi, Sameer Ranjan, Durga Panda, Prahallad Satapathy, Damodar Panda, Prashant Kar, Manoj Mahanty, Aditeswar Mishra, Deepak Mishra, Ashish Gadanayak, Amiya Mahapatra, Hemanta Dalpati, Subrat Jena, Sujata Sahani, Narendra Bhoi, Bichitra Biswal, Jayanti Beuria Biswal, Bhawani Bhuiyan, Ajit Meher, Subrat Barik, Chandan Nag, Anand Chandra Sahu, Ravindra Gadatia, Akshay Samal, Sudhir Dhangdamajhi, Pramod Panda, Trinath Singh, Saroj Bal, Pratikshya Jena, Manini Misha, Gajanan Mishra, Parame Naik, Prajnaprabha Kuanar, Rabi Pradhan, Srimant Mahanty, Suresh Tripathy, Subrat Sahu, SanjayTripathy and R. Puspanjali.

Earlier a group of young poets too had issued a public statement in support of the vetrean poet and activist Varavara Rao. They had sought his release from prison. The statement as quoted by The Wire reads, “We the undersigned express our solidarity with people’s poet Varavara Rao, condemn his arbitrary arrest under draconian charges like UAPA and urge the authorities to release him immediately.

“Varavara Rao is a world-renowned poet, journalist and literary critic from Telangana who founded the Revolutionary Writers Association popularly known as Virasam. Throughout history, he has been hounded and arrested in various false charges by various governments and later been acquitted in all the cases. This only goes on to suggest that his revolutionary writings have always made the ones in power uncomfortable and they have always been threatened by the power of his verses. Ideally, a poet names the nameless without actually taking their name and for the ones in power to arrest or implicate poets, they need to accept that they are the ones being talked about in those poems.

“In 2018, Varavara Rao was arrested for his alleged role in the ‘Elgar Parishad case’, on false charges of ‘trying to incite violence in Bhima Koregaon’. He has not been offered a fair trial in the last two years and has been imprisoned for an unjust length of time, along with other public-spirited activists, writers and advocates.

“He is 80 years old and according to the press note issued by his family under the title “Don’t kill Varavara Rao in jail”, he is seriously ill and has been in poor health ever since he was shifted to JJ Hospital in an unconscious state earlier in May. His co-prisoner also said he needed immediate help for his physical and neurological issues.

“It is clear that Rao is only being kept in jail by virtue of him being a poet who questions the powers-that-be. While we as young poets not only understand the value and importance of speaking for the people and questioning the ones in power, we take it as a responsibility, to uphold. It is because of public poets like Varavara Rao that we, the young poets are able to write and speak for the society and on other matters.

“We would also like to state categorically that as young poets of this nation, we see the attack on Rao as an attack on all of us, our minds, our pens and our views. If this suppression of our voices continues, all of us would be left with no voice at all, and there would be only two voices, the voice of the ‘King’ and the voice of the ‘poet employed in the court of the King’! That is the last thing we can afford in our democracy and we must keep alive the spirit of struggle for free thinking to bloom.

“While after enormous outrage by citizens, the news of Varavara Rao being moved to JJ hospital provides some succor, we demand that the appropriate government and judicial authorities immediately attend to all his medical needs, allow his family to be with him and enlarge him on bail. It is only then that we as young poets would rest assured that the current regime would not muzzle our voices when we speak out fearlessly.

“We call upon young fellow poets across the country to stand up for poet Varavara Rao because of who we are able to stretch the reach of our imagination and ideas and write poetry.”

It has been signed by: Aseem Sundan, Aamir Aziz, Nabiya Khan, Hussain Haidry, Kaushik Raj, Iqra Khilji, Taikhum Sadiq, Abhijit Khandkar Rachneet Kaur, Naveen Chourey, Daaniyal, Poojan Sahil, Meghna Prakash, Nandini Gautam, Mandvi Mishra, Yashi Verma,Simran Banga, Sabika Abbas Naqvi, Ankur Sharma, Ridhi Bhutani, Pallavi Mahajan, Nausheen Khan, Ghazal Khanna, Megha Rao, Bikram Bumrah, Faisal Khan, Amina Arif, Amy Singh, Smriti Bhoker, Foram Ashish Shah, Kavya Sharma, Sahila, Priya Malik, Puneet Sharma, Nosheen Kapoor, Roshan Abbas, Rajat Thakur, Bappadittya Sarkar, Ramneek Singh, Simar Singh, Soumya Thakur, Nidhie Saini, Ajmal Khan, Vasvi Kejriwal, Devanshi Khetarpal, Suhit Kelkar, Aswin Vijayan, Prashant Parvataneni Arjun Rajendran, Smita Sahay and Arathy Asok.

Writers and activists have also maintained pressure on the authorities and have continued to seek humanitarian action from the authorities. Journalist and activist Teesta Setalvad wrote; “A simple, long overdue humanitarian act could be proven to have been too late! Varavara Rao needs dignified handling, imm release on bail !Now !”

Rao’s niece VarshaGandikota, also wrote a moving piece on the noted telugu poet in the Boston Review, titled ‘When the State Fears a Poet’.

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Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/nhrc-demands-report-varavara-raos-health-jail-condition

NHRC demands report on Varavara Rao’s health, jail condition

National Human Rights Commission issues notices to Maharashtra Chief Secretary and Director General (Prisons) seeking report within two weeks

Sabrangindia

17 Jul 2020

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General (Prisons), Maharashtra, and asked for a report on the jail conditions that Telugu poet Vaavara Rao has been kept in, and his health status. This report is to be submitted within two weeks.

The NHRC has also directed the jail authorities to “constitute a Medical Board to examine the health condition” of Rao and to see whether the treatment being provided to him is appropriate. The Commission has acted on a complaint from Maja Daruwala, the Special Monitor of the Commission regarding the difficulties being faced by Varavara Rao who is lodged in Taloja jail in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The NHRC was informed that the nearly 80-year-old Rao is suffering from multiple ailments which have led to his deteriorating health. Now Rao is unable to walk, and it has been alleged that jail authorities were not providing him the requisite healthcare facilities.

The NHRC’s proceedings on July 13 observed that “the right to life and medical care is one of the basic human rights and the State is duty bound to provide a prisoner who is in its custody, appropriate medical care so that there should be no danger to his life.” The medical board will also decide in which hospital, whether government or private, will Rao get “the best medical treatment.”

Maja Daruwala had written to the NHRC informing the commission that Rao’s health was “deteriorating and the authorities are ignoring his condition.” The NHRC also stated that it had been informed that when Rao’s family visited him in JJ Hospital “they were shocked to see that he was lying in the transit ward in a pool of urine on the bed and was still incoherent.” They said, “He could not recognise his wife and daughters immediately and the nurses in the hospital told the family members that there was no equipment or treatment available to be given to the patient in the transit ward.”

The NHRC also noted media reports that confirmed that Rao had tested positive for Covid-19 and was transferred to St. George Hospital, a State run Covid-19 facility. Many Human Rights Defenders have also approached the Commission raising their concern about Rao’s condition.

While the Commission has already taken cognizance and awaits the submission of a report from the State authorities, it has also made further strong observations, and said with Rao, testing positive for Covid-19, the “danger to his life has grown bigger which is a matter of concern for the Commission.”

The NHRC addressed the question of saving a precious human life leaving apart the legal aspect of the matter. “It is, therefore, necessary that the State Government should provide Shri Rao the best possible treatment in a reputed super speciality private hospital without any further delay,” it stated.

The NHRC has asked the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra to look into the matter personally, “Vara Vara Rao is an Under Trial Prisoner presently in the custody of the State. Hence, the government must ensure that all the expenditure of the medical treatment of Shri Rao to be borne by the State being his lawful custodian.”

The Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra is expected to submit the compliance report, immediately, and also the pending report called for by the Commission on July 13.

On May 14, the NHRC had issued notices to the Maharashtra Chief Secretary and DG(Prisons) over allegations of wrong interpretation of the Supreme Court Order about releasing the prisoners in the wake of Covid-19.

According to a statement posted on its website, the NHRC, had taken cognizance of a complaint that the Government of Maharashtra has adopted an “inappropriate approach about the release of prisoners, which may lead to infecting many prisoners with Covid-19.” The complaint had been filed by the Commission’s Prison Monitor, Maja Daruwala. It was alleged that in “ random tests conducted on 144 prisoners in the Arthur Road Jail, 103 were found positive including 26 members of the staff.” The Commission had observed that it was “aware of the fact that in many jails, the prisoners as well as the staff members have fallen prey to the Covid-19 virus due to overcrowding, lack of manpower and medical facilities.”

It had then asked for a report should be submitted to the Commission with “details of all the jails in the State of Maharashtra mentioning capacity of the jail, number of prisoners presently lodged, number of prisoners found positive for Covid-19, number of prisoners kept under quarantine, number of prisoners died due to Covid-19 illness and steps being taken by the State prison authority to ensure safety of the prisoners and the personnel working at the jails across the state.”

That statement may be read here.
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Source: https://mronline.org/2020/07/17/indian-poet-and-activist-varavara-rao-shifted-from-prison-to-hospital-due-to-deteriorating-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indian-poet-and-activist-varavara-rao-shifted-from-prison-to-hospital-due-to-deteriorating-health&utm_source=MR+Email+List&utm_campaign=b590fef129-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_MRONLINE_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4f879628ac-b590fef129-295834201&mc_cid=b590fef129&mc_eid=f7f571883e

Indian poet and activist Varavara Rao shifted from prison to hospital due to deteriorating health

Posted Jul 17, 2020 by Eds.

Originally published: Peoples Dispatch by Parth MN - Submission by Vennelakanti Ramarao (July 13 & 15, 2020) |

On July 13, Monday, Indian poet and activist Varavara Rao, who is a political prisoner, was shifted from the Taloja prison to the JJ Hospital in Mumbai following a drastic deterioration in his health. Over the weekend, his family had said that Rao, who is 79 years old and has been in prison since late 2018, was beginning to suffer from brain damage.

Varavara Rao is one of the 11 political prisoners arrested in the controversial Elgar Parishad case. He is accused of the outlandish charge of being associated with banned maoist outfits and plotting the murder of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Critics say that Rao, a renowned Telugu intellectual, poet and a professor, is being harassed for being critical of the current establishment.

On the evening of July 11, when Varavara Rao’s wife, Hemalata, 72, asked him over phone if he was okay, he struggled to comprehend the question. “He started talking about his father’s funeral instead,” said a concerned N. Venugopal, Varavara Rao’s nephew.

His father died when he was three years old. It was 75 years ago. He was hallucinating.

Concerned about the deterioration in his health, Rao’s family held a virtual press conference on the morning of July 12 to make some of the details public.

Varavara Rao was first admitted to JJ Hospital in Mumbai on May 28 after he had fallen unconscious in jail. “He was under medical supervision for three days,” his nephew said. He claimed that he was discharged hurriedly on June 1 so “National Investigation Agency [which is probing the case] and prosecution could argue in court that he was fine at the time of discharge.”

In the next 41 days Rao was in prison, the family members spoke to him four times and experienced a steady, alarming deterioration in his health. The four calls happened on June 7, June 24, July 2 and July 11. “The first call was okay,” said Venugopal.

In the second call, his voice was weak, he was incoherent and confused.

On July 2 as well, Rao couldn’t speak properly. But it was the last call on July 11 that sent tremors among the family members.

Besides talking about his father’s funeral, he spoke like a child, said Pavana, his youngest daughter. “My father remembers old, historical dates,” she said.

He is an orator, a public speaker. He has never had a problem with words. But in the last two phone calls, he couldn’t speak with fluency. Between every word, there was a gap. When we asked how he was, he kept repeating ‘I’m good, I’m good’, like a child. It was horrifying.

A tearful Venugopal added, “Don’t kill him in jail. His brain is getting damaged,” after which, Rao’s wife, Hemalata took over and addressed the press in Telugu. She broke down in the middle of the address, which is when Pavana spoke.

At the time of the call, Rao’s co-accused Vernon Gonzales, human rights activist, was with him. Vernon informed the family members that Rao has been “unable to walk on his own, unable to go to loo on his own, unable to brush on his own. Someone is assisting him.” Vernon further told the family that Rao has been hallucinating in the prison hospital, saying his family members are at the gate since he is being released. “We asked him about the treatment inside the hospital and Vernon specifically told us there is no treatment,” said Pavana.

The Elgar Parishad case has to do with violence that broke out in the State of Maharashtra in 2018. Initial investigations pointed to the role of Hindu right-wing fundamentalists. However, the case soon shifted track and activists, left-wing intellectual and critics of the government became suspects.

Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, the family members of prisoners lodged in the case have been demanding bail on medical conditions. Rao, among them, is in the most precarious state with several comorbidities.

During a pandemic, even if prisons are packed to their original capacity, it is said to be dangerous for the well-being of prisoners. In Maharashtra, the prisons are seriously overcrowded and fertile ground for the spread of coronavirus.

Therefore, on March 23, the Supreme Court of India asked the state governments to decongest prisons in order to prevent the spread of the disease. The Maharashtra government, led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, subsequently constituted a high-power committee (HPC) to decide on the release of prisoners.

However, as of May 31, Maharashtra’s 60 prisons had 28,920 inmates. According to the data on June 19, that number stands at 28,950. In other words, 30 prisoners have instead been added in the 20 days of June. The official capacity of all the prisons in the state is actually 24,030. In order to be a safe space during a pandemic, the prisons need to be decongested down to 16,000 inmates.

In Taloja Central Prison, located in Navi Mumbai, there were 2,186 inmates on May 31. On June 19, that number increased to 2,313. The original capacity of the prison is 2,134.

Venugopal said the family is used to fabricated cases being lodged against Rao, but he has always come out clean. But he was in good health then.

Eventually, with a lump in her throat, and in a quivering voice, Pavana concluded,

If a poet and intellectual like Varavara Rao is going to die in jail because of negligence of the government, that would be pathetic.

(A version of this story, written by Parth MN, was originally published on Newsclick on July 12. It has been updated to reflect recent developments.)

Justice vs. poetic justice

Global corporates and their surrogate political thugs are trying to resolve this crises by Fascism. By crushing the intellectuals who questions, the working class who struggles.

‘I did not supply the explosives
Nor ideas for that matter
It was you who trod with iron heels
Upon the ant hill
And from the trampled earth
Sprouted the idea of vengeance…(REFLECTION–Varavararao,1985)

…. it was the ‘poetic reflection’ of the social dynamics expressed by renowned Indian Telugu poet, journalist, literary critic, public sspeaker Pendyala Varavararao (V.V.) of that time. It explains.. Poetic Justice ie., the fact of experiencing a fitting or deserved retribution for one’s actions. But in the era of Post-truth, as ‘disappearance of shared objective standards of truth’ becomes the order of the day, the essence of ‘poetic justice’ has been upturned. ‘Ant hill’ turned into Cobra’s residence, and that was troded or challenged by the intellectuals (literary and civil rights activists) by their social activities are received poetic justice in the form of imprisonment in different times. V.V. has been lodged in Yerawada jail in connections with Bhima Koregaon case or Elgar Parishad case in November 2018 and then shifted to Taloja jail, Navi Mumbai, India. Public intellectuals with distinguished records as human rights activists have been booked under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA), which allow extended detention without trial and bail. Over 130 renowned intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Nancy Fraser, Indrani chatterjee, Suvir kaul, Wendy Brown and Homi k Bhaba and others from across the world have appealed to President of India, and Chief justice of India for the release of differently abled Prof. G.N. Saibaba (90% disabled with post-polio syndrome) and octogenarian poet (81years) V.V. who are in Maharashtra prisons amid covid 29 outbreak. V.V. is a under trail in Elgar parishad case, while Saibaba is convicted. Both are imprisoned in different cases, facing common charges like links with Maoist party of India, indulging in activities amounting to waging a war against the country. the duo’s deteriorating health conditions, the Covid outbreak in prison posed an increased danger to their lives and they should be immediately released on bail Saibaba who suffers from a number of life-threatening ailments including acute pancreatitis, cardiac complications, hypertension and impacted gallbladder stone, has lost most of the functioning of both his hands since he was imprisoned. While the poet has been suffering from various health ailments in the crowded jail. By the plea of his family members and several sections of the society, V.V. has been admitted to neurology department JJ Hospital in Mumbai.

One of the supreme court benches of India led by Justice Madan B Lokur stated (March, 2020_) that ‘Another important facet of our criminal jurisprudence is that the grant of bail is the general rule and putting a person in jail or in a prison or in a correction home is an exception. Unfortunately, some of these basic principles appear to have been lost sight of with the result that more and more persons are being incarcerated and for longer periods. This does not do any good to our criminal jurisprudence or to our society. To put it shortly, a humane attitude is required to be adopted by a judge while dealing with an application for remanding a suspect or an accused person to police custody or judicial custody. The requirements of Article 21 (right to live with dignity) of the Constitution and the fact that there is enormous overcrowding in prisons, leading to social and other problems. The grant or refusal of bail is entirely within the discretion of the judge hearing the matter and though that discretion is unfettered, it must be exercised judiciously and in a humane manner and compassionately.’ However, they have been conspicuously reluctant to apply this rule in V.V. and others case. Bail pleas have been rejected several times, because he is a senior member of Maoist party, and that he conspired to organize the Elgar Parishad violence. But his advanced age and decandence of health condition clearly indicate that he is no condition to derail the investigation or tamper with evidence. He may be a member of Maoist party that doesn’t matter. ‘The membership of a proscribed organization is not sufficient reason to deem a person as a criminal’ was a ruling given by Supreme court in the past. By this ruling Supreme court negated the Clause-‘the extended detention without trial and bail’ in UAPA. In lieu of that ruling V.V. and his co accused should be given bail. In practice, jurisprudence uprooted into Jail is rule, bail is an exemption.

V.V. is a worshipper of revolution, poet and journalist from Telangana. Known as a Marxist critic, V.V. has written several articles and addressed public gatherings condemning the social system. He was also one of the founders of the Revolutionary Writers’ Association, popularly known as Virasam. He is also considered to be a prolific poet, having published 15 poetry collections of his own. V.V. has been arrested on multiple occasions. He has been arrested four-times since the formation of the new Telangana state in 2014. In connection with an alleged plot by Maoist extremists to assassinate PM Modi, besides V.V., Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bhardwaj and her daughter Anu Bhardwaj were arrested. V.V.’s name had surfaced in the investigation in connection with the Elgaar Parishad rally case. nearly two years ago that the Elgar Parishad, a public gathering of Dalit and Left-leaning groups in Pune on December 31, 2017, was organized to commemoration event by Dalit groups at Bhima Koregaon On January 1, like every year, lakhs of Dalits poured into Bhima Koregaon. The commemoration has a record of being conducted peacefully and the village’s residents have a history of social harmony. In the battle that took place on 1 January 1818 in the village of Koregaon, the British Army comprising Dalit Mahars had defeated upper-caste Peshwas representing Maratha ruler Baji Rao Peshwa. The battle has been seen by the ‘lower-caste’ Mahars as a triumph of their community over the oppressive Peshwas, and has been celebrated on the first day of every new year as an exemplar of Dalit valour and sacrifice. But The battle has come to be seen as a “symbol of Dalit pride“. Ambedkar visited the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial on the 109th anniversary of the battle in 1927. The memorial–a pillar–was constructed in remembrance of the soldiers who died in the battle, and it is said that the pillar included the names of 22 Dalit Mahars who had fought in the battle. Hence, it has been celebrated by the Dalit over the years. The 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence refers to attack on visitors by anti social elements regarding upper castes, and also Hindu fanatics during an annual celebratory gathering at Bhima Koregaon to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon victory. Protests broke out violently in several places.. V.V. complemented one of the Dalit leaders organized counter attack. Investigators claim to have unearthed a conspiracy and arrested political activists from across the country–most of them had not attended the Parishad. In August 2018 five activists, including Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, were picked up in simultaneous raids across the country, the police alleged that the activists had ties to Maoists, apart from links to the Bhima Koregaon incident. Whatever be the accusations of investigators, it is necessary to have a speedy trial and closure in the case. Keeping renowned and widely respected writers and academicians and civil liberty activists, particularly who are in advanced age and precarious health conditions, as prolonged undertrials without any trial kept in prison under suspicion doesn’t befit a liberal democracy. Which is against democracy that respects freedom of speech, the fundamental right to a fair trial including bail.

Since 2008 the spiralling world socio-economic-ecological (epochal) crisis is at the verge of the Abrupt changes. Several worst world class scenarios are worth exploring. The Masters of Universe Billionaire class and its surrogate political regimes are springing across the globe. In U.S., EU, Russia, China and elsewhere in the Globe Fascist or semi Fascist or draconian authoritarian\small ethnic fascist states came into power. In the COVID-19 scenario Hungary prime minister viktor Orban took the decree of indefinite Rule for himself. Neo Fascism has become the phenomenon now. This is not because of Carona pandemic, but because of Socio-economic-ecological crisis is viraling in the world. Epochal crisis is nothing but virulent phenomenon arising from the corpse of decadent capitalism.

Despite the fact that epochal crisis, these surrogate politicians of billionaire class will want to sustain control. They may think that the fear of the epochal crisis which has made people accept oppressive measures, can be maintained indefinitely through the media and other ideological means they control. Like the lord of the castle, who threw a few gold and silver coins to the starving peasants during famines after bad crops, the lords of today’s capitalism put in effect “quantitative easing,” which is a euphemism for printing a massive amount of money. These measures cannot protect the sinking Global economy. It’s on life support. Global North’s Monopoly capitalism, Global South’s Bureaucratic capitalism is in neck deep crisis. Global corporates and their surrogate political thugs are trying to resolve this crises by Fascism. By crushing the intellectuals who questions, the working class who struggles… But there is no such Global Revolutionary political party which can lead people to resolve these crises by Revolution. In these conditions electoral democratic process has become..

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.
? Karl Marx

- Vennelakanti Ramarao
Ex- journalist…
Andhra pradesh-India