All men and women are equal in our democracy but some are more equal than others. Maoist ideologue and poet Varavara Rao is among the more equals.
Rao, along with others, is accused of inciting violent at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district in which one person died and many were injured, including 10 cops. The case is sub judice, but prominent national and international personalities and intellectuals are convinced that he is not guilty, so they are campaigning for his release.
Maybe he is not guilty; in that case he will be acquitted, as many other communists and even Islamists have been. But all manner of grandees are batting for him, as if he were a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi. The truth—something Rao himself hasn’t denied—is that he is a follower of Mao Zedong, arguably the greatest butcher in the history of mankind. For Mao killed anywhere between 30 million to 70 million people.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Rao’s release on grounds of his deteriorating health. “In this country, a person of 81 years of age has been languishing in jail for years without knowing his offence, now he has been mentally disoriented, having no medical assistance, his name is poet Varavara Rao.”
Well, Mr. Chowdhury, it is curious that your heart doesn’t bleed for lakhs of under-trials who are rotting in Indian prisons, but it does for a proponent of the most violent ideology—Maoism.
In its 2017 report, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said that 68.5 per cent of the prisoners were under trial. Further, one if four under-trial prisoners had spent more than a year in prison. Many have reportedly spent more time in jail than the terms they would have got had they been convicted for the offences they were accused of.
Clearly, there is malaise in our system. Investigations and prosecutions drag for years. It is the same for the commies like Rao, the saffron activists charged with terrorist activities, and ordinary people.
But Congress leaders and intellectuals make the malaise appear as a specific instance, as if only the Maoists and their sympathizers are targeted. Chowdhury wants clemency for Rao; his party colleague Chidambaram also wants the same (https://indianarrative.com/india/chidambarams-heart-bleeds-for-a-maoist-5827.html).
So do a vast array of intellectuals and activists. Over a hundred luminaries, including Noam Chomsky and Homi K, Bhabha, have demanded his release. Human Rights Watch has called his detention, and that of other activists, as “wrongful” and “politically motivated.” Two months ago, the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights bemoaned the “intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders” in India. Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, also expressed concern for Rao’s health. Rao is said to be infected with the novel coronavirus.
Considering Rao’s age and health, all these worthies can request, but cannot demand, his release. For he is not more equal than others, their belief notwithstanding..