The National Investigation Agency on Friday told the Bombay High Court that it will not take any coercive action against poet and activist Varavara Rao till his plea for extension of medical bail is heard on September 6, Live Law reported.
Rao is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, which pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. He was among 16 people who were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.
Rao’s petition was slated to be heard on Friday, but the court could not take up the matter due to the lack of time. After a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar said that it will hear the case on Monday, Rao’s counsel Anand Grover urged the court to ensure that no coercive action was taken against his client till then.
The 81-year-old activist’s bail will end on September 5 and he was supposed to surrender to the Taloja jail authorities in Navi Mumbai.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the NIA, told the court that the agency will not take action against him until the next hearing.
Rao, in his petition seeking extension of bail, has stated that he takes 13 medicines every day for neurological problems, cholesterol, blood pressure and other health conditions, according to The Hindu.
A neurologist at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital has also stated that he suffers from asymptomatic Parkinson’s disease, and has movement disorders and gait instability.
On February 22, the Bombay High Court had granted bail on medical grounds to Rao for a period of six months. He was at the time undergoing treatment at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital. He was released from the hospital on March 6.
The High Court had granted him bail on the condition that he has to stay within the jurisdiction of the Special National Investigation Agency Court. The court also asked the activist to mark his presence with the nearest police station through video call on messaging platform WhatsApp. Besides, Rao has been directed not to issue any statements or speak to the media.
The activist was shifted to Nanavati Hospital after the High Court on November 18 observed that he was “almost on his deathbed”. Since then, the court extended his stay in the hospital on December 15, December 21 and then on January 7.
Bhima Koregaon case
The NIA has alleged that the accused persons were part of a conspiracy to incite violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial near Pune on January 1, 2018. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident.
One of the accused, 84-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, died in custody in July. Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, was repeatedly denied bail despite his deteriorating health condition.
Currently, 14 activists and academicians are in custody in connection with the case. They have been jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the case without any reliable evidence.
The first chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June 2018. T
he police claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy.
The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.