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Is this revolutionary bigger threat to repressive order than those waging war in Bastar?

By Harsh Thakor* 

Professor GN Saibaba is one of the best sons of our land today. It is hard to visualize a physically impaired person face and resist the iron feet of oppression with the same magnitude. The poems and the book he has written illustrate the nature and struggle against fascism.
Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba, 53, was born in Amalapuram, a small town in Andhra Pradesh. He got polio at the age of five but got the first position in the district in Class X. Until 2008, he did not have a wheelchair and used to move by covering his palms with chappals and crawl. He completed his Master’s in Arts in Hyderabad and joined the Central Institute of English and Foreign Language to pursue Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English in 1991.
He was first arrested on May 9, 2014, when he was working as permanent faculty in the Department of English, Ram Lal Anand College, affiliated to Delhi University. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 for his alleged links with the banned CPI (Maoist), which he denies, his services were terminated in 2021.
His book “Why Do You Fear My Way So Much? Poems and Letters from Prison” offers insights on his jail conditions and his sorrow over the continued separation from his wife, Vasantha Kumari, as well as his profession of teaching. A letter he wrote to his fellow teachers and students shows how much he misses his classroom. The book explains the pain and punishment they both feel as they are not allowed to talk or even write letters in their mother tongue Telugu.
In the book, Vasantha recollects the humiliation and ache in the letter when Saibaba was arrested and how he was even debarred from attending the funeral of his own mother. The introduction by Vasantha gives an idea of how his ideology evolved and his burning passion as a human rights defender.
Within jail walls Saibaba seems to have created more tremors in the camp of the neo-fascist rulers than the armed squads of the CPI (Maoist). His poetry is a manifestation of the spirit of a revolutionary that towers above that of an ordinary human being. He is the voice of the oppressed people of India be it tribals, peasants, workers, intellectuals, students or minorities.
I can never forget the times I have spent with him; however short, he gave me an insight into his compassionate nature. He showed great sympathies to me when a Maoist journal ‘Peoples March’ made a wrong accusation on my credibility and had firm confidence that I was a genuine sympathiser of the revolutionary movement.
Why the state today wishes to entrap Saibaba within prison walls? No doubt he was part of an affiliate that extended sympathies or solidarity towards Maoists, but that in now way entails charges of sedition. Are democratic revolutionary activists more of a threat to the repressive social order than those waging a war in the forests of Bastar? In the history of India, considering he is handicapped, no democratic activist has been framed to such a degree, similar to the British treating Bhagat Singh for sedition.
One of the most touching occurrences in modern times has been the presence and voice of his wife Vasantha in public meetings. Rarely have women displayed more courage or displayed spirit of coal burning in a furnace as Vasantha, how most courageously relegated the personal aspect and put the confrontation with proto-fascism in the forefront.
After his arrest a series of campaigns and conventions were staged all over the nation, particularly in Delhi, Punjab and Telengana. What was heartening and positive that sections participated from many different revolutionary streams as well as the effort of several civil liberties groups in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. His arrest and subsequent protests virtually defined a turning point in Indian neo-fascism and peoples movement to confront it.

Thought of Saibaba

Saibaba is a brilliant intellectual, having mastery on Indian economics and crystallization and consolidation of neo-fascism worldwide. He asserts India is still a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society and not turned capitalist. He defends the essence of the formulation of 1947 independence by Suniti Kumar Ghosh as fake in ‘India and the Raj.’
Saibaba’s interviews talk of neo-fascist and Brahmanical nature of the pro-Hindutva state. He explains the predominance of semi-feudalism and why it is the principal contradiction. He believes in the importance of understanding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of China. He appears to support the Protracted Peoples War theory of MaoTse Tung.
Saibaba has a broad-minded approach towards the caste question and thinks it is an integral part of the revolutionary or Marxist movement. He thinks India has turned into a fascist state in the same light as China did under Chiang Kai Shek. He asserts that fascism would take a different forms in third world countries and quotes late Zhou En Lai to prove his point.
Saibaba tried to take a Communist view of the nationality question, fascist attacks on minorities, on the movements of workers and peasants, on imperialist hegemony and expansionist ambitions. In confronting Operation Greenhunt he called it fascist design of the state through patronising penetration of corporates to loot the tribals.
In 1997 Saibaba played an important part in organising the convention of the All India People’s Resistance Forum in Mumbai, alleging fake nature of Indian independence. The Forum campaigned against state repression in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar in 1999.
Rallies and hall meetings were organised in Hyderabad, West Godavri , Vishakapatnam, Bellamkonda and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh; in Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Rampura Phool and Faridkot in Punjab; and in Patna Aurangabad, Buxar and Bhagalpur, Bihar, Delhi, Assam, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It concluded with an event at Guntur, with thousands thronging the city. In sum 50 solidarity programmes were staged.
Saibaba later worked for the Revolutionary Democratic Front as a solidarity front with other organisations. He played an important role for its 1st conference in Hyderabad in April 2012. It took place in spite of grave restrictions and massive effort by the rulers to block participants to the event took place with delegates from Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.
Saibaba's moral support and guidance played a role in making the Democratic Students' Union in Delhi a force to be reckoned with. He devised new forms of programmes in Delhi University campus and Jawaharlal Nehru University to expose saffron fascism. He lit the spark for many programmes in Delhi for the release of political prisoners. In April 2013 he joined protests against the hanging of Fazal Guru and Mohammad Kasab.
Saibaba gave maximum moral support to the Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi, and the Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Under his tutelage, the journal ‘Jan Pratirodh’ was regularly published that sought to portray fascist repression and people’s struggles.
---
*Freelance journalist

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