Hyderabad: Founder and President of Balala Hakula Sangham, P Achyuta Rao, succumbed to COVID on Wednesday, 22nd July.

He had tested positive for novel coronavirus and was admitted to Yashoda Hospital along with his brother last week. It was on Wednesday afternoon that he breathed his last.

According to a social media post by his nephew, Siddharth, Mr Rao's health had been critical for the past two days had had been experiencing severe respiratory issues. His family was allegedly pressurised by the hospital to pay up treatment money in cash and refused to cover it as health insurance.

Mr Rao was a well known child rights activist, and had founded Balala Hakula Sangham in 1984. He is known to have helped prevent child marriages, incidents of child sexual abuse, and child labour.

He recently filed a petition in Telangana High Court demanding that mid-day meal be served to students in government schools, since they have not been able to access it due to the pandemic-imposed lockdown.

He was approached by several parents in cases of their child being sexually abused by government authorities. In 2018, Mr Rao brought to light an incident of seual harassment by a constable at Ramgopalpet police station. He was later booked under Indian Penal Code section 376 (3) (rape of a minor) and 506 (criminal intimidation) and also Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act section 5(a) r/w 6.

In 2015, he was also inducted as a member of the state's State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. The same year he rescued Pratyusha from extreme torture that was inflicted on her by her stepmother. The girl was later adopted by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao.

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