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

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

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.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.