The National Investigative Agency (NIA) has accused ‘Urban Naxal’ Varavara Rao of attempting to take undue advantage of the Coronavirus outbreak after the accused in the Elgar Parishad case applied for bail on grounds of health, LiveLaw has reported. He had earlier tested positive for Covid-19.
The NIA said in its 170-page reply to the plea for bail by Varavara Rao at the Bombay High Court, “The appellant accused Varavara Rao under the garb of the current situation on account of global pandemic Covid-19 and his old age, is trying to take an undue benefit in the aforesaid situation in seeking bail on the grounds mentioned in his application.”
The NIA stated further, “It is very clear that prison authorities responded timely and provided necessary medical aid to the appellant accused Varavara Rao. The medical record of the appellant accused and the report submitted by the Superintendent of JJ Hospital does not suggest that the appellant accused is suffering from any such ailment which necessitates to immediately obtain treatment from multi-speciality hospital from specific doctor. Thus it is clear that the pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief which is not available to the petitioner otherwise on the merits of this case.”
Referring to the serious charges Varavara Rao and others in the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case are accused of, the investigative agency stated, “Mr Rao and other accused in the case have been charged with various offences under chapter IV and V of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) as well as Indian Penal Code wherein the prescribed punishment is more than seven years and may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore even though the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra High Powered committee permits an under-trial prisoner above 60 years of age merely to apply for an interim bail, and not to be granted bail mechanically. As it is purely the discretion of the court adjudication the bail application as such the court ought to have exercised its discretion.”
Cases against ‘activist’ Rao
In July 2019, Karnataka police took Bhima Koregaon case accused Varavara Rao into custody in connection with a 2005 Maoist attack case registered at Tirumani and sent him to the Mumbai prison. He was already in judicial custody at Yerwada jail in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case.
In November 2018, Rao, and nine others were arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, which was initially probed by the Pune police and later transferred to the National Investigation Agency in January. The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.
The police have also claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.