Open Letter to Chief Justice of India from Varavara Rao’s Wife

I, P Hemalata, wife of Varavara Rao, the famous revolutionary poet and public intellectual, who is implicated in a criminal conspiracy case and currently imprisoned in Yerawada Central Prison, Pune, since November 2018 after two months ‘house arrest’ as directed by Supreme Court, would like to bring a few important concerned issues to your notice and request you to initiate an immediate action.

Varavara Rao is shown as an accused, along with others, in Bhima Koregaon violence case which was later extended to criminal conspiracy and then to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. While he has nothing to do with the initial Bhima Koregaon violence (in fact the original perpetrators are not booked at all) the later extensions are based on obviously fabricated evidence. The turns and twists in the history of the case amply show mala fide intentions of the police and I strongly suspect that my husband is implicated in the case just to silence his voice.

As a college lecturer from 1966 to 1998, Varavara Rao worked with hundreds of lecturers and taught thousands of students in his career spanning over three decades. As a student in Osmania University, teacher and PhD scholar in Kakatiya University and post-doctoral fellow in University of Hyderabad, he came into contact with thousands of teachers and students and inspired them with his literary and academic personality. Everybody who came into contact during this long association in various capacities always found him friendly, affectionate, concerned, emotional, sensitive and reaching out to help others.

His poetry for six decades is a glowing example of these personal traits of him. Apart from a Telugu lecturer, he is very well known as poet, literary critic, social commentator and a renowned public speaker. In the last sixty years he published about twenty volumes of poetry and twenty volumes of literary criticism, socio-political commentary and translations. He has been a sought-after popular public speaker with thousands of inspiring public speeches to his credit. It cannot be denied that he holds different and alternative political views and has been an ardent speaker and writer expressing those views.

All through his life he stood for some values and social concerns. He has been supporting all people’s struggles including Dalits, Adivasis, women, workers and minorities. He lent his intellectual inputs to Telangana separate statehood movement. He also acted as an emissary of a revolutionary party when the government wanted to have talks with the party to usher in meaningful peace. But, I as his wife for 55 years and all those who know him are sure that he never ever involved himself in any criminal activity in his 78 years of life.

His innocence or non-involvement in criminal activities is not only our belief as his family members, friends, colleagues, students and admirers, but also pronounced by various law courts of the land. He was implicated in as many as 25 cases in the last 45 years and police accused him of several grave charges as is being done now. But out of these 25 cases, the courts set him free finding him not guilty in 13 cases after years of prolonged trial and the other 12 cases were withdrawn by the state even before trial. Two conspiracy cases, one went on for 15 years and the other for 17 years, finally ended in his acquittal. This is a clear proof that the prosecution could not prove a single charge in a single case against him. However, he had to spend more than seven years of his precious life in various prisons as an under-trial prisoner.

Now, the Pune police also charged him with very serious offences but we are certain that this case also will not stand the scrutiny of law and he will come out unscathed. In the meanwhile, he is also implicated in another case in Gadchiroli, only to prevent him from coming out on bail in this case. But, the issue that is worrying us a lot and the reason why we want to appeal to you is his age and failing health. When he was implicated in and imprisoned for all the false cases earlier, he was much younger and keeping good health.

In fact that previous unfounded incarceration took a toll of his health and now at the age of 79 he is being subjected to another imprisonment. I am not at all questioning the due process of law. Let that be continued, but a person without any criminal record, a person on whom police filed about 25 cases vindictively as he was professing unpalatable views to the powers that be, a person on whom a single charge could not be proved in a court of law, a person who is ailing and 79, cannot be subjected to another round of incarceration and harassment, just because a police official fabricated some so-called evidence.

I request you to look into the mala fide intentions and the manner in which the case is made out and also order his immediate release pending the judicial trial. I request you to take an immediate action in this case on humanitarian grounds depending on his age, health and stature as a public intellectual.
_ Pendyala Hemalata
Wife of Varavara Rao

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