Mumbai, July 16: Revolutionary Telugu poet and writer Varavara Rao has contracted coronavirus (COVID-19), reports said on Thursday. Varavara Rao is in judicial custody in Maharashtra in the Bhima Koregaon case. Rao was admitted to Mumbai's JJ Hospital on Tuesday. The 80-year-old poet had been lodged in Navi Mumbai's Taloja jail, which reportedly saw the death of a prisoner due to COVID-19.

Rao was shifted to JJ Hospital after his family appealed to the government for his immediate release in view of his deteriorating health. His family said that his condition had deteriorated ever since he was shifted in an unconscious state to JJ Hospital on May 28. "Even as he was discharged from the hospital and sent back to jail three days later, there has been no improvement in his health and he is still in need of emergency healthcare," Rao's wife Hemlata had said. Adhir Ranjan Requests PM Modi to Intervene to Release Activist Varavara Rao.

Rao's family had also pointed out that he is vulnerable to contract COVID-19 inside Taloja jail, seeking immediate medical care for him. "At the present juncture, we are leaving aside all the pertinent facts like, that the case against him is fabricated; he had to spend 22 months in jail as an undertrial with the process turned into punishment; his bail petitions got rejected at least five times now and even the bail petitions with his age, ill-health and Covid vulnerability as grounds were ignored. His life is the topmost concern for us right now. Our present demand is to save his life," the family had said.

Rao has been in jail for about 22 months and had earlier approached the special NIA court, seeking bail on medical grounds and the prevailing COVID-19 situation. On June 26, the NIA court rejected his plea on the ground that he has been booked under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), following which he moved the high court.

Rao was arrested along with eight other activists in connection with the December 31, 2017, public meeting by the Elgar Parishad and the subsequent caste riots on January 1, 2018, in Koregaon-Bhima village of Pune. He is facing charges of anti-national activities and attempting to overthrow the elected government at the centre and hatching a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 16, 2020 06:07 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website