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Varavara Rao Discharged from Hospital, Released on Bail

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Varavara Rao, the Telugu poet-activist who was arrested in relation to the Elgar Parishad case in July 2018, walked free from Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital late night on Saturday after being granted six-months bail on medical grounds by the Bombay High Court on February 22, reported Bar and Bench.

Rao had tested positive for Covid-19 in July 2020 and was admitted to the state-run JJ Hospital. Since then, the 82-year-old’s health has been rapidly deteriorating and he has been suffering from dementia as well.

In January 2018, violence broke out during an annual celebration at Bhima Koregaon, a panchayat village in Maharashtra, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.

Rao and 15 other activists and scholars were accused of having Maoist links, who backed the event that led to the violence, and were arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and await trial since the past three years.

While Rao’s wife had applied for a bail in November 2020 following Republic TV‘s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s bail in relation to the abetment of suicide case of a Mumbai-based interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother, the plea stood rejected and instead, the court ordered for a panel of doctors from Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital to examine Rao over video call and visit him physically at the jail, if necessary, as it required his latest medical reports for the decision.

Rao was then shifted to Nanavati Hospital for 15days by the court’s order and his family was permitted to visit him, according to the hospital protocols. The High Court also asked Rao to pay a cash surety of Rs 50,000 and two solvent sureties of the like amount.

The court has since extended his stay twice until, in February, a division bench comprising Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale granted him bail of six months, after which he should either surrender or apply for an extension.

Though the National Investigation Agency requested the court to stay Rao’s release from the hospital for three more weeks, the court refused to stay and said: “We cannot stay his release, we will record your submission.”

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