81-year-old poet-activist Varavara Rao tests positive for COVID-19; Angry reaction from civil society


81-year-old poet-activist Varavara Rao, who has been behind bars since 2018 in the Elgaar Parishad case has tested positive for COVID-19.

Rao had to be shifted to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital on Monday amidst serious concerns about his deteriorating health. He was lodged in Tajola Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.

His family members had said that Rao’s memory was fading rapidly and he was remembering incidents that took place several decades ago.

In 2018, Pune Police had arrested Varavara Rao from Hyderabad, Gautam Navlakha from Delhi, lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Haryana and Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonzalves from Maharashtra. These activists were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January 2018. Violence erupted during the Elgaar Parishad event, organised to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Koregaon. The date is observed by Dalit groups in memory of what they consider was their victory over the upper caste Peshwas.

Meanwhile, Twitterati have exploded in anger after the news of Rao testing positive for coronavirus came in.


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