Telugu poet and writer P Varavara Rao was taken into custody from his home in Hyderabad by the Pune police on Saturday evening for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had been under house arrest since the end of August.

In a nationwide series of raids on August 28, 78-year-old Rao and four other activists from Mumbai, Delhi and Gurgaon had been arrested in connection with caste violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima-Koregaon village on January 1. But on August 29, the Supreme Court ordered that they be placed under house arrest. Rao’s house arrest was later exended by the Hyderabad High Court.

In the course of investigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence, the police claimed to have uncovered a conspiracy to kill Modi.

On Saturday, Rao’s son-in-law KV Kurmanath told reporters that the Pune police did not have any transit remand papers to transport Rao to Pune. When the family insisted on documents, the investigating officer wrote a letter, Kurmanath said.

In addition to alleging that the poet is involved in the Modi assassination conspiracy, the Pune police claimed to reporters that Rao had helped Maoists buy arms from suppliers in Nepal and Manipur, and was involved in funding “urban Naxal” activities.

Shortly after he was arrested in August, Rao said that he was innocent. “This is a false case,” he said. “If the fight against fascist policies is called a conspiracy, then there cannot be a bigger conspiracy than this.”

Rao is the co-founder of the Viplava Rachayitala Sangham (Revolutionary Writers’ Association), popularly known by its acronym Virasam. In 1966, he founded a magazine devoted to modern Telugu literature titled Srujana (creation). Three years later, he was among the moving spirits behind Thirugubatu Kavulu (Rebel Poets), a literary group that associated itself with the Naxalite armed struggle.

Rao has written 15 collections of poetry and has been closely involved with the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh. Since the early 1980s, he had been arrested in at least 18 cases, one ending in an acquittal after 17 years. He has spent six years in prison.

Rao being led away from his home by the Pune police.
Rao being led away from his home by the Pune police.