Students rights activist Kanchan Nanaware, who was arrested in 2014 for her alleged Maoist links, died of a heart and brain ailment in a hospital in Pune on Sunday, PTI reported. She was 37.
Nanaware was arrested along with her husband Arun Belke, and booked under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, reported The Wire. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad alleged that they were members of the “Golden Corridor Committee’’ of Maoists, who were trying to recruit cadres from urban areas. However, Nanaware was not convicted in the case, and had been awaiting trial for six years.
“Nanaware was suffering from some heart ailment for a long time and lately she had undergone a surgery after a brain tumour was diagnosed.” said Yerawada Central Jail Superintendent UT Pawar, where the activist was lodged, according to PTI. “Today [Sunday], she died in the Sassoon General Hospital.”
The activist’s family told The Wire that Nanaware was born with a congenital heart illness, and had developed a brain ailment in the past week. But neither the jail nor hospital authorities informed the family or her lawyers till her brain surgery was conducted on January 16.
“[Arun] Belke’s family received a letter today [January 24] informing them about her deteriorating health condition,” Nanware’s lawyer Parth Shah told the website. “And later today, they received a call saying she has succumbed to health complications.”
The lawyer said they will move court to have Nanaware’s body moved to Belke’s family in Ballarshah city in Chandrapur district. “At least after her death, the family is hoping they would be able to access her body and carry out the final rites,” the lawyer added.
Shah said that Nanaware had moved both the sessions court and the Bombay High Court for bail multiple times over the past two years. “Each time, it [the plea] was rejected,” Shah said.
In October, an application was moved before the Bombay High Court on medical grounds, citing Nanaware’s deteriorating health condition. During the hearing, the court was told that a heart transplant was the only option available to ensure the activist survived. The court then formed a committee to gauge her health condition and the need for urgent medical care.
But the matter took months to be heard and Nanware succumbed to her ailments. Of the nine cases that Nanaware was booked in, she was already acquitted in six. Three cases – one each in Gadchiroli, Pune and Gondiya – were still pending, according to The Wire.
Rohan Nahar, also Nanaware’s advocate, noted that even in the cases that led to her arrest in 2014, Nanaware was never convicted. “But it is unfortunate that her health condition did not push the courts to give a favourable order and grant her bail,” he added. “She was accused of Maoist activities and the tragedy is we would never know whether she was really involved. She was punished through her incarceration.”