N Venugopal Rao is a writer and the nephew of Varavara Rao, the poet who has been arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case. Varavara was arrested two years ago along with 12 other activists. He has been repeatedly denied bail and has been in poor health for the past month, testing positive for Covid on July 16.
In this interview with Newslaundry’s Manisha Pande, Venugopal explains how the family was allowed a 20-minute long video call with Varavara by Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital, where he was shifted for treatment. Varavara appeared both physically and psychologically unwell during the call.
Regarding his uncle’s involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case, Venugopal points out how the Elgar Parishad event, which preceded the violence in December 2017, had been organised by retired Justices BG Kolse-Patil and PB Sawant, who have already stated that they were the “main organisers and sole funders”. Varavara had never even visited Pune until the Pune police came to take him to jail in November 2018, Venugopal says.
Varavara’s bail plea will be heard by courts today. The family is requesting bail on three major grounds: his age, health, and vulnerability to Covid. The plea was filed before he tested positive for the virus.
Text by Prakriti Singh.