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

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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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