Hyderabad: The 78-year-old Varavara Rao, a postgraduate in Telugu literature from Osmania University, founded the Revolutionary Writer’s Association (Viplava Rachayithala Sangham) in 1970, which reportedly propagates Maoist ideology. He also founded Sahithi Mitrulu (Friends of literature) and launched Srijana, a forum for modern Telugu literature in 1966. He formed Thiragabadu (Rebel) poets group along with other poets in 1970. He was also a founder member of the All India League for Revolutionary Culture (AILRC) that was formed in 1983.
Rao has been prosecuted in several cases for more than two decades. He has been booked in 18 cases so far since his first arrest in 1973 and has been jailed for six years since then. He was recently arrested in 2005, soon after the AP state government imposed a ban on Virasam. After formation of Telangana state, he was booked in four cases and was placed under house arrest numerous times for taking out rallies and organising protests across the country.
In 1973, Rao was arrested under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) by the AP police, but the High Court then had struck down the case and he was released from jail after one and a half month. Then in 1974, he along with 41 other revolutionary poets were booked in a conspiracy case and it ended with an acquittal by a court in 1989. He was released on bail in 1975, several times after being refused bail.
During the emergency in India between 1975 and 1977, Rao was arrested again under MISA and was released a week later on conditional bail, only after the Janata Government repealed the Act. Once, he was also beaten by a police officer in public during a protest at Mandamarri village in Adilabad in 1979. In 1985, during the TDP government, six cases of conspiracy were booked against Varavara Rao. As he was subjected to immense pressure that included restrictions on his movement in the state, the court cancelled his bail in the Secunderabad Conspiracy Case, upon his request, and he was jailed again in December 1985.
While in jail, two more cases were slapped against him on charges of conspiracy. In one of them, he was acquitted only in 2003 after 17 years of trial. In 2005, he was arrested within 24 hours after the then AP government banned Virasam, and he was released on bail in 2006 after eight months. All the 17 cases against him led to him being acquitted by various courts and only one case booked under TADA in 1986 is still pending. His wife Hemalatha was also jailed twice in 1978 and 1984, for being the publisher of Srijana, a literary magazine. In 1992, it was banned by the then state government.