Skip to main content

Plea to release rights leader Dr Saibaba, in Nagpur solitary cell with serious ailments

Counterview Desk
The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr GN Saibaba has sought Government of India intervention for the immediate release of Dr GN Saibaba, well-known human rights leader, from the overcrowded Nagpur Central Jail in the face of an imminent threat to his life exacerbated by the COVID-19 virus.
Even as pressing upon the release all the incarcerated voices of democracy and uphold their right to life, the committee, in a statement, has said that, suffering from several diseases, including post-polio residual paralysis, Dr Saibaba’s “incarceration” for the last seven years is a clear violation of Supreme Court judgments and international treaties to which India is a signatory.
Signed by prominent led by well-known writer Arundhati Roy, regrets the statement, “Despite interventions made by the National Human Rights Commission and authorities of international human rights organisations, the courts have repeatedly denied him bail.”

Text:

Over the last six years, the health of Dr GN Saibaba, incarcerated in Nagpur Central Jail, has deteriorated alarmingly. Prof Saibaba is a teacher of English at the University of Delhi and is a human rights activist. Due to post-polio residual paralysis of his lower limbs, he is over ninety percent physically disabled and wheelchair bound.
Since incarceration, he has developed severe additional ailments that have resulted in irreparable loss to his health. On May 9, 2014, he was abducted from Delhi by the Maharashtra Police and charged under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
None of the electronic documents supposedly seized from GN Saibaba’s house were displayed in the court or tested through any witness or made part of the course of evidence. These electronic documents were directly brought only as part of 313 statement, and not the main course of evidence.
The judge rejected all Supreme Court judgments regarding bringing these documents which were not part of the course of evidence as part of 313. These documents used were not a part of the trial. Gadchiroli Sessions court gave life imprisonment on March 7, 2017 to Dr GN Saibaba along with five others.
Excluding a brief reprieve in 2016, he has been kept in the solitary anda cell of Nagpur Central Jail since arrest. With Indian jails filled beyond capacity and lacking in basic medical facilities, and with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the country particularly affecting the aged and those with serious pre-existing medical conditions, Dr GN Saibaba’s future looks exceedingly bleak.
Throughout his political life, Dr GN Saibaba has been a vocal advocate for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and other oppressed communities. He has spoken against the state sponsored attack on people in Central India under Operation Green Hunt. He stood by his students and advocated for democratic principles and social justice within the university. He has never shied away from speaking his mind and has worked tirelessly to uphold the spirit of democracy.
Nagpur jail authorities have stated that they lack facilities needed to care for a person with such severe disabilities and ailments
Arundhati Roy
While hospitals in Nagpur and jail authorities have stated that they lack facilities needed to care for a person with such severe disabilities and ailments, he remains incarcerated, untreated and denied bail. Nonetheless, he retains the spirit of struggle, even when dehumanised by the lack of medical facilities and denied the basic fundamental right of a life with dignity.
Dr GN Saibaba suffers severe physical pain caused by the degeneration of muscles in his hands. He is plagued by pancreatitis, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, chronic back pain, immobility and sleeplessness. The weather conditions of Nagpur, magnified by the windowless solitary anda cell have even strained the functioning of his heart.
Consequently, his physical ailments intensified while the lack of pain relief and neglect due to inadequate medical facilities further debilitate his already fragile health. Despite interventions made by the National Human Rights Commission and authorities of international human rights organisations, the courts have repeatedly denied him bail.
The Supreme Court of India has upheld the right to life and reflected on prisoners observing that “the treatment of a human being which offends human dignity, imposes avoidable torture and reduces the man to the level of a beast would certainly be arbitrary and can be questioned under Article 14”.
India is also a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which recognises the inherent dignity of human beings and the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom. Furthermore, India has ratified the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on October 1, 2007. India has even adopted the United Nations Resolution 70/175 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules).
These covenants, conventions and resolutions ensure life and dignity to all persons, prisoners and persons with disabilities and layout the essential parameters necessary for its implementation.
When the National Crime Records Bureau states that prisons across the country prison are filled at 117% with Maharashtra exceeding the average at 149%, the impact of the spread of the COVID-19 virus in such a space is likely to be a death sentence for Dr. Saibaba.
The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr GN Saibaba fears for his life and appeals to the Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra for the immediate release of Dr. GN Saibaba, in light of the impending threat to his life from the COVID-19 virus. The committee urges all democratic organisations and individuals to appeal for the release of all political prisoners.
---
*Signatories: Prof G Haragopal, Prof Jagmohan Singh, Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, Prof Amit Bhaduri, Arundhati Roy, Nandita Narain, Karen Gabriel, Sumit Chakravorty, Ashok Bhowmick, Sanjay Kak, PK Vijayan, Vikas Gupta, Biswajit Mohanty, Rakesh Ranjan, Hany Babu, Srikrishna Deva Rao, Seema Azad, AK Ramakrishna, N Raghuram, Anirban Kar,  Subrat Kumar Sahu

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They