The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted interim bail on medical grounds to 81-year old Telugu poet-activist Varavara Rao in connection to the 2016 Surjagarh iron ore mine arson case, PTI reported. The order came a day after Rao was granted bail for six months in the Bhima Koregaon case.
On Tuesday, Rao’s lawyers Firdos Mirza and Nihalsingh Rathod sought bail on health grounds, according to PTI. “We pointed out to the court here [Nagpur] the order passed by the division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale on Monday, granting Rao interim bail for six months after considering his health condition,” Mirza told the news agency. A bench of Justice Swapna Joshi granted the relief to the poet-activist.
Tuesday’s case involves an incident on December 25, 2016, when suspected Maoists allegedly set fire to around 80 vehicles transporting iron ore from the Surjagarh mines in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, according to NDTV. Rao, along with another activist Suresh Gadling, are accused in the case.
Rao was arrested in 2018 along with several other activists in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case and booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The octogenarian, who suffers from multiple ailments, is currently at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital. Several activists and academics have been accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered the violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident.
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. The NIA has, however, maintained that he was fit to be shifted back to Taloja Jail, where he was lodged before being hospitalised.