Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

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What Attacks on GN Saibaba and Arundhati Roy Show About India

[The writer Mannish Sethi relates the court order to the arbitrary and malevolent character of law in India today.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Blind to justice

Why the December 23 order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court — refusing Professor Saibaba bail and issuing a notice of contempt to Arundhati Roy — takes one’s breath away.

 

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Social activists staged a protest in Nagpur Thursday, demanding Saibaba’s release on bail. (Source: Express Photo)

 Law is no stranger to prejudice or moral anxieties. Judicial pronouncements can sometimes cast aside constitutional values and defer to societal biases masquerading as righteousness. The recurrence of “collective conscience” in terror cases, where the threat of terrorism looms so large that it can overshadow the lack of evidence, is only too well known. Even so, the December 23 order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court takes one’s breath away. It rejected the regular bail plea moved by the lawyers of Delhi University professor, Saibaba, cancelled his interim bail which allowed him to receive treatment till December 31, and ordered him to surrender within 48 hours. Besides, the court issued a notice of criminal contempt to Arundhati Roy for her article, ‘Professor, POW’, published in Outlook magazine. The order will be remembered for its naked display of contempt for civil rights, partisanship and renunciation of judicial independence.

Wheelchair bound, Saibaba spent over a year in jail before the division bench of the Bombay High Court granted him interim bail on the plea of a social activist in June 2015. (Illustration by C R  Sasikumar)

Wheelchair bound, Saibaba spent over a year in jail before the division bench of the Bombay High Court granted him interim bail on the plea of a social activist in June 2015. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

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Delhi University professor G N Saibaba returns to Nagpur jail

[Professor GN Saibaba has been ordered to return to prison in India, adding yet another political prisoner to the many hundreds of thousands of activists who have been imprisoned, often on the basis of  British colonial-occupation laws. — Frontlines ed.]
Saibaba expressed disappointment over the HC order.
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Social activists staged a protest in Nagpur Thursday, demanding Saibaba’s release on bail. (Source: Express Photos)

 “I DON’T feel like a victim but certainly feel I am being used and it is unfair,” said Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, responding to a question if he was a victim of a tussle between two benches of the Bombay High Court.

Saibaba, who was arrested last year for alleged Naxal links and was out on bail, arrived here on Friday evening by flight from Delhi to present himself before the central prison authorities following a Nagpur HC bench’s order two days ago cancelling his bail and asking him to surrender within 48 hours.

“Right from the beginning, I have been subjected to constant witchhunting and false framing. Without any evidence to justify the prosecution, I am being returned to incarceration,” Saibaba said in a statement to journalists. Continue reading

Professor G.N. Saibaba writes on Nagpur Jail experience

[Upon publication of this article about his experience in an ‘anda’ (an egg-shaped jail cell), the court denied his temporary bail, ordered his return to jail and withdrew his access to decent medical care. — Frontlines ed.]

by G.N. Saibaba, Frontline, December 23, 2015

My view from an ‘anda’

Bombay HC rejects ailing DU professor GN Saibaba

Delhi University professor GN Saibaba

G.N. Saibaba, a wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor, talks of the days he spent in Nagpur Central Jail, in solitary confinement, after his arrest for alleged Maoist links.

G.N. Saibaba is a professor of English at Delhi University and is wheelchair-bound owing to physical disabilities to the extent of 90 per cent. On May 9, 2014, he was “abducted” when he was on his way home from work, and the next day, he was taken to Aheri, in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district. From there, he was taken to Nagpur Central Jail where he was lodged until June this year when he was granted interim bail for medical treatment. He was charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged Maoist links, and the trial, which began on October 27, 2015, at the Gadchiroli Sessions Court resulted in bail being granted for all co-accused except him. The hearing on his plea for permanent bail was held on December 11, and a final order was awaited at the time of going to press.

The 14 months spent in jail were like 14 years in hell. Thanks to a huge campaign outside and an order by a division bench of the Bombay High Court, I am out for medical treatment; otherwise, I would be dead by now. The prison hospital in Nagpur Central Jail lacks permanent doctors or medicines and is ill-equipped to treat severe ailments. While I was there, five people (one in his 50s, one in his 40s and three in their 30s) died; they could have survived with timely treatment. Apart from the chronic and severe health problems that I already had, I acquired spinal problems while being incarcerated. Owing to the heavy force used by the police in dragging me by my hands, the nerves from my neck to my left shoulder got severely stretched and rendered my left hand immobile. I suffered excruciating pain for 14 months. Instead of treating the ruptured nerve system, I was given painkillers, that too occasionally in the beginning and arbitrarily afterwards, which resulted in damage to my left hand. Despite rigorous treatment in various hospitals every six months, even now I can’t move my left hand above waist height. Besides, I cannot use the ground-level toilet, and they built a Western-style toilet only after eight months. That, too, did not work. Water came for 20 minutes in the morning, but with only one bucket allowed per prisoner not much could be stored. Without water, the closed anda (egg-shaped) cell where I was confined would stink ad infinitum. Continue reading

Assata Shakur: “I Am a 20th Century Escaped Slave”

Although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal

https://i2.wp.com/clearingthefogradio.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Black-liberation-targeted.jpg

My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.  Continue reading

A Palestinian Video/Song for Saibaba’s Freedom

[The solidarity video/song by a Palestinian poet marks a global defiance toward repressive powers.  Professor GN Saibaba’s case has drawn the attention and solidarity of people in India and around the world, especially from oppressed people who have faced the same political repression in other lands.  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.]

*Hungry*  —  Song from Palestine
Introducing text: Arundhati Roy, excerpted from *Outlook* essay:
‘Professor, P.O.W.’

‘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.

‘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.

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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.]
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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.

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

Indian Political Prisoner Kobad Ghandy ends hunger strike

June 6, 2015
kobad

Kobad Ghandy, arrested in 2009

Kobad Ghandy, the 68-year-old undertrial lodged in Tihar Jail here, called off his hunger strike on Friday soon after a court ordered the jail authorities to provide him easier access to basic facilities and adequate health care.

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India: Protests of Medical Abuse of Political Activist Professor-Prisoner Brings Care, Briefly

, in TOI Edit Page, June 18, 2015

At long last the Bombay high court has permitted GN Saibaba – a professor of English literature at Delhi University – to be temporarily shifted to a private health facility for urgently required medical treatment. Else he might have had to die inside a Nagpur jail cell without his guilt ever being proven. That, in fact, can still happen.

Due to polio, his legs are 90% disabled since he was five. But the authorities find him so dangerous that he has been denied bail by a Nagpur court twice. For over a year, jail authorities have denied him the special care he needs as a disabled prisoner with cardiac problems. As a result, his health is now failing. The jail doctor has ordered an angioplasty. Without the surgery he might suffer a heart attack.

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India jailed a revolutionary, but they can’t jail the revolution

FREE DR. GN SAIBABA!

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

One year passed since the abduction-arrest of GN Saibaba by Indian state. With a 90 per cent disability Saibaba is lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University and he is being deprived of proper medication and care that is needed for his safety and life. In the year he’s been in prison, his physical condition has deteriorated alarmingly. He is in constant, excruciating pain.

But he is denied of bail like many other in India and his ‘crime’ is to speak for the oppressed masses, Adivaisi, Dalits and Muslims.

To know more about him and his case (and many others), read Arundhati Roy’s article at:

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/professor-pow/294265

Writer, composer and singer of this song is Doc Jazz, and it was originally composed for the Palestinian activist Samer Issawi. Visit his site for more detail:

http://www.docjazz.com/index.php/articles/41-news/songnews/241-new-song-hungry-samer-issawi

Hyderabad: Demonstration for Release of Dr. GN Saibaba

 Demonstration for Immediate Release of Dr GN Saibaba on 9th May @ Hyderabad.

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 Rally from Sundaraih Park, Baghlingampally to Indira park at 10am

Dharna @ Indira park at 11.30am

organising by STRUGGLE COMMITTEE FOR RELEASE OF DR. G.N. SAIBABA

India: Teachers Hunger Strike for Freedom for Prof. GN Saibaba

imageIt will be one year on 9th May 2015 of continued incarceration of our colleague Dr. G.N. Saibaba. He languishes in jail without trial and without bail while his health is deteriorating fast. Please come and participate in the day-long hunger strike to save life of Dr. GN Saibaba and secure his early release from the solitary confinement in Nagpur Central Jail. Please circulate this message among your friends and encourage them to come and participate. Teachers and representatives of Teachers’ Associations from JNU, IP University, JMI, and Ambedkar University are joining the hunger strike.

 

Professor, P.O.W.

Picture of an armed terrorist? Dr Saibaba outside his house 

So afraid is the government of this paralysed wheelchair-bound academic that the Maharashtra police had to abduct him for arrest

Arundhati Roy, Outlook India Magazine, week of May 18, 2015

May 9, 2015, marks one year since Dr G.N. Saibaba, lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, was abducted by unknown men on his way home from work. When her husband went missing and his cellphone did not respond, Vasantha, Dr Saibaba’s wife, filed a missing person’s complaint in the local police station. Subsequently the unknown men identified themselves as the Maharashtra Police and described the abduction as an arrest.

Why did they abduct him in this way when they could easily have arrested him formally, this professor who happens to be wheelchair-bound and paralysed from his waist downwards since he was five years old? There were two reasons: First, because they knew from their previous visits to his house that if they picked him up from his home on the Delhi University campus they would have to deal with a crowd of angry people—professors, activists and students who loved and admired Professor Saibaba not just because he was a dedicated teacher but also because of his fearless political worldview. Second, because abducting him made it look as though they, armed only with their wit and daring, had tracked down and captured a dangerous terrorist. The truth is more prosaic. Many of us had known for a long time that Professor Saibaba was likely to be arrested. It had been the subject of open discussion for months. Never in all those months, right up to the day of his abduction, did it ever occur to him or to anybody else that he should do anything else but face up to it fair and square. In fact, during that period, he put in extra hours and finished his PhD on the Politics of the Discipline of Indian English Writing. Why did we think he would be arrested? What was his crime?

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