The family of 81-year-old Telugu poet and literary critic Varavara Rao, who tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently undergoing treatment at Nanavati Hospital, has now written to Anil Deshmukh, Home Minister Of Maharashtra. The letter states-
"We, the family of Sri Varavara Rao, are compelled to write this letter to you, as we are denied any information about his health condition or treatment at Nanavati Hospital for the last twelve days. We are extremely worried and anxious to know about his health. We are writing to you since he is lodged in a jail under your ministry as an under-trial prisoner and it is your bounden duty to look after his well-being. It is also your duty to inform his family in case of any problem to his health, as per the Charter of Patient Rights prepared by Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry."
The letter contends that hospital authorities are refusing to give any information to family members about Rao's health but have been informing jail authorities about the same-
"You should appreciate that we as a family of an ailing, 81-year old prisoner admitted in a hospital as a tested positive Covid patient, have every right to know about his status and line of treatment. It is not only our legal right, but also a right based on principles of natural justice. We hope you will understand the anxiety of a family who is kept in the dark for 12 days when a member is lodged in a hospital in grave condition.
From the time he was shifted out of Taloja Jail to JJ Hospital, later to St George's hospital and then to Nanavati hospital, the only official information provided to the family was that he had tested positive for the COVID-19 on July 16, 2020.
We have been calling Nanavati Hospital also every day since July 20, 2020 but received no response from them. We contacted the PRO of Nanavati Hospital on July 21, 2020. In response to our message to the hospital authorities (the PRO of Nanavati Hospital), we were informed on July 26, 2020 (yesterday) that the hospital has been updating the jail authorities regularly about his health: "Ms. Pavana, we are regularly giving updates to jail authorities, you can approach them for details ..." was the message we received."
Thereafter, it is alleged that the jail authorities have not shared any updates about Rao's health with them and when the family's lawyer contacted taloja jail superintendent, he disconnected the call. Thus, the family members have questioned why jail authorities are not passing on information received by the hospital-
"It is a mystery why this information is not passed on to the family by the jail authorities. We believe that it is inhuman and unethical to withhold the information about Mr Rao's health to his anxious family. It is very clear that the Jail authorities have regular updates about Mr. Rao's health. Mr. Rao is an under-trial prisoner in your custody and the jail authorities have the responsibility to give us regular updates or instruct the Nanavathi hospital to release regular health bulletins. We, therefore, request you to direct Taloja jail authorities or Nanavati Hospital to provide regular updates on Mr. Rao's health status, the diagnosis of his health problems and line of treatment to us. Is Mr. Rao doing well? Given his age and ailments, what is the impact of Covid-19 on his health? We have many questions and doubts lingering in our minds. We believe as Mr. Rao's family we should have access to information about his health, according to the law of the land and medical ethics."
Rao's family has also written to the National Human Rights Commission seeking their intervention in the matter. Eminent scholars and thinkers from around the world sought the release of VV Rao and all the other accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, wherein a caste based violence took place on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.