A total of one hundred and forty five eminent scholars and academicians from around the world have appealed for the immediate release of 81-year-old Telugu poet, literary critic Varavara Rao, who tested positive for COVID-19 and has been accused of inciting caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon which took place on January 1, 2018 along with 10 other activists and academicians, legal news website has reported.

Philosopher and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky, who is also Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics emeritus, MIT, English economist Barbara Harriss White, Emeritus Professor and Fellow Wolfson College, Oxford University and Dr Hugo Gorringe, Co-Director Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK are amongst the 145 eminent scholars who have sought immediate release of all the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Rao’s lawyers have filed applications seeking bail on multiple occasions on medical grounds but it has been rejected every single time. The octogenarian was also arrested during the Emergency imposed in 1975 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, under the Maintenance of internal Security Act (MISA) on charges of inciting violence through his writing.

Along with journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, lawyer and unionist Sudha Bharadwaj, lawyer and dalit rights activist Surendra Gadling, activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Rona Wilson, Assistant Professor Of English at Nagpur University Shoma Sen, tribal rights activist Mahesh Raut, academic Vernon Gonsalves, scholar and writer Anand Teltumbde, lawyer and activist Arun Ferreira and Rao have all been accused of having Maoist links and booked under the newly amended and more stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Rao who was shifted to Nanavati Hospital from the state run St.George’s hospital on Sunday, after he reportedly fell at St.George’s and injured his head severely. But the family was not informed about the said incident and got to know about it from newspaper reports. In a press release today, Rao’s family demanded directions to the hospital administration or prison administration to provide transparent, official updates on his health and the line of treatment being administered to him on a regular basis once or twice in a day as long as he is in the hospital.

The Text Sunday 19thJuly 2020, Midnight,BST

Varavara Rao, poet, writer, activist and long-time speaker of truth to power has been imprisoned for two years now, along with ten other scholar-activists. They have been charged with inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon, a charge widely regarded as false, and over the past two years the government has failed to bring the charges to court and start the trial.

Conditions in the jails in which these prisoners of conscience have been kept are said to be unhealthy and the threat of spread of infection has grown.

Mr Rao, who is 80years old, has now tested positive for COVID-19 and is seriously ill with several co-morbidities. His condition suggests clear neglect of his health by the authorities.

We join other international scholars in appealing for the immediate release of Varavara Rao and the other Elgaar Parishad activists.


Barbara Harriss-White, FAcSS, Emeritus Professor and Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford University, UK

Dr Hugo Gorringe, Co-Director Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics emeritus, MIT, USA

Jan Breman, Emeritus Professor University of Amsterdam, Honorary Fellow of the International Institute of Social History, Netherlands.

Jens Lerche, Reader in Agrarian and Labour Studies, Dept of Development Studies, SOAS, London, UK

Dr. Indrajit Roy, Senior Lecturer-Global Development Politics, Department of Politics, University of York ,UK

Patricia Jeffery, Professor Emerita, University of Edinburgh, UK

Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor of South Asian Language, Culture and Society, Edinburgh University, UK

David Mosse, Professor of Social Anthropology, SOAS, London, UK

Dr Shubranshu Mishra, Lecturer, Politics and International Relations University of Exeter, UK

Kalathmika Natarajan, Teaching Fellow in South Asian History, University of Edinburgh, UK

Radhika Govinda, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr. Deana Heath, Reader in Indian and Colonial History, University of Liverpool, UK

Anisha Palat, PhD Student, University of Edinburgh, UK

Roger Jeffery, Professor of Sociology of South Asia, Associate Director, Edinburgh India Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK

Colin Leys, Emeritus professor, Queen’s University, Canada

Dr. Lotte Hoek, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr Kanchana Ruwanpura, Reader, University of Edinburgh, Scotland Dr Nandini Sen, Researcher, Heriot Watt University, UK

Arnab Bhattacharjee, Professor, Economics, Heriot Watt University, UK Meena Dhanda, Professor of Philosophy & Cultural Politics, University of Wolverhampton, UK.

Dr Amogh Sharma, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University, UK Sebastian Schwecke, Associate professor, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University, Germany

Dr Krithika Srinivasan, Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, UK Barbara Smith, Associate Professor in Agricultural Ecology and Public Science, Coventry University, UK

Dr Maryam Aslany, Post-doctoral Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford, UK Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, London, UK

Ravi Ahuja, Professor of Modern Indian History, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany

Dr Alfred Gathorne-Hardy, Lecturer in Sustainable Resource Use, University of Edinburgh, and Senior Research Fellow, Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Oxford, UK

Ben Rogaly, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sussex, UK Dr Vasudha Chhotray, Associate Professor, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK

Dr Devanshi Chanchani, Global Challenges Research Fellow, Brunel University, UK

Rashmi Varma, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies, Warwick University, UK

Susan Newman, Professor and Head of Economics, Open University Dr. Mukulika Banerjee, Director, South Asia Centre, London School of Economics, UK

Projit Bihari Mukharji, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA. Alberto Toscano Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory. Goldsmiths College, London, UK

Dr Subir Sinha, Sr lecturer in Institutions and Development, SOAS, London, UK

Dr Madhumita Dutta, Assistant Professor, Geography, Ohio State University, USA

Dr Feyzi Ismail, Senior Teaching Fellow, SOAS University of London, UK, Balmurli Natrajan, Professor, Anthropology, William Paterson University of New Jersey, USA

Suraj T. PhD student, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, London Jonathan Pattenden, Associate Professor, Politics and Development, University of East Anglia, UK

Deepa Kurup, D Phil Student, Oxford University, UK

Lalit Vachani, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, (CeMIS), University of Gottingen, Germany

Dr Alice Clark, Principal, Clark Research Associates, El Cerrito, California, USA

Alpa Shah, Associate Professor, London School of Economics, UK Adam Hanieh, Professor, SOAS, University of London, UK

Dr Jacob Copeman, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Edinburgh University, UK

Radhika Desai, Professor, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Canada

Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Professor of Economics and International Development Studies, Trent University, Canada

Ania Loomba, Catherine Byrson Professor of English, South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

John Harriss, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver and

Adjunct Professor, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Kalyani Monteiro Jayasankar, PhD Student, Princeton University, USA Durgesh Solanki, PhD Student, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Dr Bashabi Fraser, Professor Emerita, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK

Neil Fraser, Retired Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK.

Christopher Cramer, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS),Professor of the Political Economy of Development, SOAS, University of London, UK

Gilbert Achcar, Professor, SOAS, University of London, UK

Jonathan Galton, Research assistant, SOAS, University of London, UK

Sian Hawthorne, Senior Lecturer and Subject Head, Religions and Philosophies, School of History, Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, University of London. UK

Brenna Bhandar, Reader in Law, SOAS, University of London, UK

Tim Pringle, Senior Lecturer, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK

Vanja Hamzić, Senior Lecturer in Legal History and Legal Anthropology, Associate Director of Research, SOAS, University of London, UK

Andrew Newsham, Senior Lecturer in International Development, SOAS, University of London, UK

Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Associate Professor of Social Anthropology and Coordinator of the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, University of Oslo, Norway

Michael Levien, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Geir Heierstad, Director, Norwegian institute of urban and regional research, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway

Pamela Price, Professor Emerita, University of Oslo, Norway

Adrija Dey Postdoctoral Research Fellow, SOAS, University of London, UK Hashim Rashid PhD, SOAS, University of London, UK

Sara Kazmi, PhD, SOAS, University of London, UK Shailza Sharma, PhD, University of Essex, UK

Shailaja Paik, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati, USA

Pranav Jani, Associate Professor of English, Director of South Asian Studies Initiative, The Ohio State University, USA

Rachel Sturman, Associate Professor, Department of History & Asian Studies Program, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, USA

Ashwini Deo, Associate Professor, Linguistics, The Ohio State University, USA

Dr Shalini Grover, Research Officer, International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics, London, UK

Ashwin Subramanian, Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), Göttingen, Germany

Nikita Sud, Associate Professor, University of Oxford

Dr Satoshi Miyamura, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, SOAS, London, UK

Rochisha Narayan, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida, USA David Hardiman, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Warwick, UK Dr Mayur Suresh, Lecturer,, School of Law, SOAS, London, UK

Dr Eleanor Newbigin, Senior lecturer, Department of History, Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, London, UK

Malvika Gupta, DPhil candidate, International Development, Oxford University, UK

Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and of South Asian Studies, Harvard University, USA

Debjani Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor, Department of History, Drexel University, Philadelphiia, USA

Jonathan Parry, Emeritus Professor, LSE, UK

Jayant Lele, Professor Emeritus, Global Development Studies , Queen’s University, Canada

Raju Das, Professor, Department of Geography, York University, Canada Mihika Chatterjee, Departmental Lecturer, University of Oxford, UK

Jan Toporowski, Professor of Economics and Finance, SOAS University of London, UK

Anupama Rao, History, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA Hira Singh, Associate Professor of Sociology, York University, Canada Sejuti Das Gupta, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University, USA

Geoff Goodwin, Departmental Lecturer in Development Studies, University of Oxford, UK

Ajay Skaria, Department of History/Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota, USA

Gyanendra Pandey, Professor of History, Emory University, Atlanta, USA Professor Leslie Elliott Armijo, International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Tapas Bandopadhyay

Meenal Shrivastava, Professor, Political Economy & Global Studies, Centre for Social Sciences, Athabasca University, Canada

Radhakrishna Sanka, Ph.D. Candidate, College of Engineering, Boston University, USA

Isabelle Guerin, Senior Research Fellow, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), France / Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA

Deepak Kapur, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science. The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA

Roli Varma, Carl Hatch Endowed Professor, School of Public Administration,

The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA

Raja Swamy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, USA

Dr Dolores Chew, Faculty, History and Humanities, Marianopolis College, Montreal, Canada

Rochisha Narayan, Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida, USA

S. Charusheela, Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell, USA

Christophe Jaffrelot, Professor of Politics, KCL, London UK, and Research Director, CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, France

Nitya Rao , Professor Gender and Development, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK

Ratik Asokan, Writer, The Baffler Magazine, UK

Ilan Kapoor, Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History Princeton University, USA

Michael Nijhawan, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University, Canada

Sanjeev Routray, Department of Sociology, UBC, Canada

Shyam Ranganathan, Department of Philosophy,,York Center for Asian Research, York University, Toronto, Canada

Aminah Mohammad-Arif, CNRS-CEIAS research fellow, Paris, France Sugata Ghosh, Professor of Economics, Brunel University London, UK Nalini Iyer, Professor of English, Seattle University, USA

Himani Bannerji, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Department of Sociology, York University, Canada

Nathaniel Roberts, Dozent, University of Göttingen, Germany Rupa Viswanath, Professor, University of Göttingen, Germany Michael Reinsborough, Lecturer, SOAS University of London, UK Jostein Jakobsen, Researcher, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, Norway

Stephen Watts, Poet, London

Alf Gunvald Nilsen, Professor, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Urs Geiser, Associate Senior Researcher, Dept. of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Shreya Sinha, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cambridge, UK Dan Hirslund, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Pallavi Roy, Lecturer, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London, UK

Anne Waldrop, Professor in Development Studies, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway

Joel Lee, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Williams College, USA Sarmistha Pal, Professor of Financial Economics, University of Surrey, UK Sheetal Chhabria, Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College, USA Judith Heyer, Fellow Emeritus, Somerville College, Oxford University, UK Santiago Izquierdo-Tort, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Temperate Forest Sciences, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Canada.

Dr Aparna Sundar, Contemporary Asian Studies, University of Toronto, Canada

David Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford University, UK

Dr Nicolas Jaoul, CNRS /IRIS , Paris, France

Aman Bardia, Platform Cooperativism Consortium, The New School, New York, USA

Chinmoy Banerjee, Emeritus Professor of English, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Srujana Katta, Researcher, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK.

Dr. Priyanka Basu Curator, The British Library, London, UK

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