‘Why is the government afraid of me? I am 90% disabled… But I think, I write': GN Saibaba

[In thousands of cases, the Indian government (and other states which serve feudal and capitalist-imperialist interests) has rounded up political opponents, has made usual false accusations that their political activism is subversive or seditious, and kept them imprisoned for lengthy times.  In this was, the Indian state aims to break the spirit of political opponents and the people they serve, and to destroy their organizations and their supporters.  With all this, the aim of such political repression is to impose fear and enforce compliance and submission — and to prevent new debates and movements against injustices and oppressions.  We present this and other postings on the production of political imprisonment in India. — Frontlines ed.]

‘The State is filled with systemic violence which all of us have to resist,’ says the DU academic, out on bail after 14 months in jail for suspected links with Maoists.

INTERVIEW by Anumeha Yadav, ScrollIn, Jul 09, 2015
'Why is the government afraid of me? I am 90% disabled... But I think, I write': GN Saibaba

Photo Credit: Anumeha Yadav

Dr GN Saibaba, an English professor at the Delhi University accused of being a part of the banned CPI (Maoist) is back home after 14 months of imprisonment in Nagpur central jail. The police first raided the wheelchair-bound academic’s house on the university campus in September 2013 with the objective of recovering property allegedly stolen from Aheri in Maharashtra. They arrested him nine months later while he was returning from an examination centre in the university on May 9, 2014 accusing him under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
On July 3, the Bombay High Court granted him three months bail following reports of his deteriorating health condition in Nagpur jail. His trial is yet to begin.

 

Back at his home surrounded by his family members and his books, Dr Saibaba, who happens to be paralysed from his waist downwards due to polio since he was five years old, spoke fearlessly against what he described as the continuing repression of the state.

India: “Justice” System Produces Political Prisoners

Vira Sathidar, right, in a scene from “Court,” directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. Credit Zeitgeist Films

 The wheels of justice grind slowly and mercilessly in “Court,” Chaitanya Tamhane’s quiet, devastating critique of the antiquated Indian legal system. As it follows the case of Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar), a 65-year-old folk singer and social activist accused of inciting what is presumed to be the suicide of a sewer worker in Mumbai, the film conjures an absurdist nightmare of bureaucratic incompetence, indifference and social inequity.

Narayan is first seen teaching children Indian geography in a crowded Mumbai classroom, then hurrying to board a bus that takes him to an outdoor theater where he is introduced to a small crowd as “the people’s poet.” Backed by a troupe of musicians, he sings a forceful song urging everyone to rise up against “religious, racist, casteist and nationalist jungles.” Midway through, Narayan is arrested.

The remainder of the movie observes his protracted trial. A travesty of justice that another filmmaker might have directed as a farce, the work has a gravity, a measured pace and a detachment reminiscent of a Frederick Wiseman documentary — “Court,” however, is fictional. Continue reading

‘I am a teacher not a preacher': Saibaba responds to charge of being ‘thorough Maoist’

[In thousands of cases, the Indian government (and other states which serve feudal and capitalist-imperialist interests) has rounded up political opponents, has made usual false accusations that their political activism is subversive or seditious, and kept them imprisoned for lengthy times.  In this was, the Indian state aims to break the spirit of political opponents and the people they serve, and to destroy their organizations and their supporters.  With all this, the aim of such political repression is to impose fear and enforce compliance and submission — and to prevent new debates and movements against injustices and oppressions.  We present this and other postings on the production of political imprisonment in India. — Frontlines ed.]

The cops believe Dr G Naga Saibaba, who was born and grew up in East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, to be a scout for the outlawed Communist Party of India (CPI) Maoist who motivated and funneled leaders into strife torn regions for carrying on with the group’s violent agenda.

Jugal R Purohit   |   India Today  |   New Delhi, July 12, 2015
Dr G Naga Saibaba

The security establishment believes Dr G Naga Saibaba is a Maoist.

“He is like a General Post Office (GPO) of the Maoist insurgents because he ensures a smooth flow of information between the insurgents in the jungles and supporters in urban centres and abroad,” said a senior police officer in Maharashtra, aware of his case. The forty seven year old could only smile at this thought, sitting inside his official residence in Delhi’s North Campus. “If I am a GPO and the Indian state knows that, why disrupt the flow? They can gain more by stealthily monitoring me,” he replied. Dr. G Naga Saibaba, an activist, a teacher and someone who the security establishment believes to be a ‘thorough Maoist but for his handicap and family commitments’ returned home on July 4, following a three-month bail on medical grounds, secured from the Bombay High Court.

Continue reading

Indian Academic Suspected of Ties to Maoist Rebels Out of Jail – For Now

[In thousands of cases, the Indian government (and other states which serve feudal and capitalist-imperialist interests) has rounded up political opponents, has made usual false accusations that their political activism is subversive or seditious, and kept them imprisoned for lengthy times.  In this was, the Indian state aims to break the spirit of political opponents and the people they serve, and to destroy their organizations and their supporters.  With all this, the aim of such political repression is to impose fear and enforce compliance and submission — and to prevent new debates and movements against injustices and oppressions.  We present this and other postings on the production of political imprisonment in India. — Frontlines ed.]
150709-IN-saibaba-620

G.N. Saibaba (right) receives his doctoral degree from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (left) at Delhi University, March 19, 2013. ( Courtesy of G.N. Saibaba)

By Rohit Wadhwaney, Benar News, July 9, 2015 

Locked up for more than a year in a dingy prison cell without proper medical care, a wheelchair-bound university professor accused of links to India’s Maoist guerrillas is struggling to come to terms with his temporary release from incarceration.
On July 3, G.N. Saibaba was released from Maharashtra state’s Nagpur Central Prison after the Bombay High Court granted him a three-month bail on medical grounds.
His 14-month imprisonment has taken a heavy toll on Saibaba, a professor of English literature at Delhi University who has been suspended. He suffers from post-polio residual paralysis, a disease that has left him mostly disabled since childhood.

India: Government Relents at Public Outrage At Abuse of Prisoner Dr. Saibaba, Grants Limited Medical Release

Jailed for alleged Maoist link, DU professor GN Saibaba gets bail

Worsening health of G N Saibaba, charged under the UAPA for alleged Maoist links, was the main ground for his release.

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Professor GN Saibaba

AdTech AdWritten by Aamir Khan, Indian Express | Mumbai | July 1, 2015

Wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor G N Saibaba has been granted bail after over a year, as the Bombay High Court Tuesday exercised powers to “protect” his fundamental rights. He has been ailing and will go to Delhi for treatment.

Worsening health of Saibaba, charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged Maoist links, was the main ground for his release.

“If extraordinary powers enshrined under Article 226 is not exercised, this court will be failing in its duty to protect the fundamental rights of professor G N Saibaba, professor of English at Delhi University. Therefore, this court is inclined to direct respondents (jail authorities) to release him for three months for medical treatment and support of his family,” Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S B Shukre observed.

Saibaba has been in Nagpur Central Prison since his arrest in May 2014 by the Maharashtra Police, from the university campus. Now that he is allowed to go to Delhi, he can undergo treatment for degeneration of spine and other neurological ailments.

The HC felt he needed his family’s round-the clock assistance. He has been asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000. He has been asked to not keep any mode of communication, such as laptop or cellphones, at his house.Dr GN
Public Prosecutor Sandeep Shinde wanted these bail conditions to be imposed. He opposed the reprieve saying Saibaba is associated with the banned CPI (Maoist) and there was possibility of him tampering with evidence. Shinde argued that Saibaba’s bail had been rejected on three occasions. He submitted that the single judge of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had rejected the plea.
“It was after the sessions court refused him relief. This court cannot take suo motu cognisance in a PIL and grant him bail as it does not have jurisdiction. There is an alternate remedy available to him,” argued Shinde. He pointed that the hard disk retrieved from Saibaba’s house corroborated with evidence in memory cards gathered from a couple of accused who claimed getting it from Saibaba. They were supposed to deliver the memory cards to naxals,” said Shinde.

Activist Purnima Upadhyay, whose letter to the court highlighted Saibaba’s failing health, had pointed out difficulties faced by his family in getting him treated. His family stays in Delhi and his wife and brother have to travel frequently to meet him.

Upadhyay said when she visited Saibaba, she saw him being wheeled with assistance. He had dislocated his shoulder, besides having a crippled right hand due to spinal problems.

“He often gets muscle cramps. He has also been fainting. He said complications in his kidney and gall bladder led to urinal problems as he was on strong medication,” she said.

Allowing Saibaba’s brother and wife to meet him, a bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A K Menon had earlier directed prison authorities to shift the professor to a hospital of his choice. The HC had rapped the police for ‘working blindly’ and treating the ailing professor ‘like an animal’.

Senior counsel Gayatri Singh, appearing for the petitioner, said government facilities in Nagpur were inadequate to handle Saibaba’s case. Escalating medical cost, up to Rs 1 lakh, which the family had incurred was worrisome, she had said.

 

 

The Notorious Treatment of India’s Political Prisoner Dr. GN Saibaba

[Two former political prisoners, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves,  who also were jailed under India’s notorious Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which has incarcerated countless as accused “Naxalites”, describe the details of the notorious and abusive treatment of Professor GN Saibaba, who suffers from polio and multiple medical issues and deteriorating health due to the conditions of his imprisonment. — Frontlines ed.]

How Maharashtra robbed Dr Saibaba of his rights

Until police can be compelled to respect basic human rights, we will continue to remain far removed from the democracy we claim to be.

Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves

“I hope you are doing well, despite the fact that you are all in a larger penitentiary, as Uncle Sam would call it. I have been in a smaller enclosure here for the last ten months. My wish to join you back in the larger prison-house has been thwarted once again. I am sure you all understand the anxieties of your friend’s existence in the claustrophobic sealed concrete enclosure of an ‘anda cell’ behind seven heavy and gigantic gates.” Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba’s words (written over three months ago from the confines of the Nagpur Central Prison) carry that gritty tone characteristic of the man ‘guilty’ of supporting and participating in sundry issues and causes of the poor and dispossessed in various parts of the country over the last three decades.

Dr Saibaba, a Delhi University Professor in English, with 90 per cent permanent physical impairment of his lower limbs, was abducted on May 9, 2014 from a Delhi road by the Maharashtra police and has since been behind bars. His story is a telling commentary on the biases of a criminal justice system that readily releases convicted film-stars and politicians but insists on incarcerating those accused of committing the ‘crime’ of supporting or believing in thought contrary to the ruling ideology. Despite many Supreme Court rulings and the recent Kerala High Court assertion that ‘being a Maoist is no crime’, the reality is that it is just this accusation that keeps Saibaba and hundreds of others like him in prison for years on end.

In the last thirteen months, Saibaba has had his bail rejected four times – thrice in the Sessions Court and once in the High Court. Despite his severe disability and his rapidly deteriorating medical condition, the State has not only vigorously opposed bail, but also gone out of its way to deny him proper medical care. Whenever Saibaba has applied for bail on medical and disability grounds, the prosecution has adopted the tactic of ensuring that facilities were provided in the jail when the bail application came up for hearing, but after the bail application was disposed of, those facilities are withdrawn. Continue reading