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

NY Times urges Turkey’s Erdogan: “Don’t Discard the Mask of Democracy”

NY Times highlights possible plan to shut down critical media

NY Times highlights possible plan to shut down critical media

Demonstrators wave Turkish flags as they gather outside the İstanbul Courthouse to protest the detention of a number of people including the editor-in-chief of Zaman daily and an executive of Samanyolu television on Dec. 19, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

May 23, 2015, Saturday

MAHIR ZEYNALOV / WASHINGTON (todayszaman.com)

The New York Times has urged the US and other NATO allies to ask Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to turn away from “destructive path,” highlighting the prevailing fear among journalists that he might be preparing to shut down critical media outlets, including this newspaper. 

In an editorial titled “Dark clouds over Turkey,” the newspaper pointed to fear of critics that a new crackdown is starting to ensure that the ruling party he founded wins in upcoming parliamentary elections slated for June 7. Erdoğan didn’t make it secret that he wants to see the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to win necessary number of seats to expand his presidential powers.
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“Resist the McCarthy-ian tactics of branding and false framing of intellectuals, students and democratic rights activists!”

Statement by the Democratic Student Union, Delhi — June 3, 2014
DSU: “Condemn the abduction and arrest of Dr. G.N. Saibaba by the notorious Maharasthra Police!”

“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act” George Orwell

 It is precisely for this ‘crime’ of speaking the truth in the face of the lies and deceit that seek to hide the untold injustice and oppression perpetuated by the Indian state, that Dr. GN Saibaba has been arrested. Dr. GN Saibaba, a faculty member in DU and a widely known political activist, was clandestinely abducted on 9th May by plain-clothed policemen of the Maharashtra police just steps away from his residence as he was on his way back from examination duty. Saibaba, who suffers from 90% disability and is wheelchair bound, was blindfolded and pushed into a vehicle that swiftly took him to the airport from whence he was flown to Nagpur. The surreptitious manner in which a public figure like him was literally abducted by the police itself testifies that they were wary of the fact that they do not have any substantive evidence to back their hoax of “nabbing” him for alleged “Maoist links”. It has been obvious for quite a while now that the Indian state has been desperate to brand him and frame him under certain cooked up charges. The sole purpose being, to gag a voice of dissent that dares to speak the truth despite repeated threats and intimidations.

A large number of activists, intellectuals, students and teachers turned up in front of Maharasthra Bhawan on 10th May to protest against the dastardly abduction and arrest of Dr. GN Saibaba

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New Delhi: Protest against State Repression on Cultural Activists

September 23, 2013

New Delhi: On 21st September (Saturday), a joint protest against growing ‘State Repression on Cultural Activists’ was organized by a number of cultural, political and student activists of the city under the banner of Daman Virodhi Sanskritik Manch despite heavy rain between 2 pm to 5 pm at Mandi House, the Cultural hub of the national capital. Following is the note circulated by the group. Pictures by POOJA PANT.

DSC_0815Repression of people’s movements and struggles of workers and peasants have intensified across India. A recent manifestation of this is the crackdown on cultural activists and intellectuals – numerous cases of sanctions, physical attacks, incarceration and arbitrary arrests have surfaced in the last few months.

Repression on cultural political activists

Recently, Hem Mishra, well known cultural activist and former student of JNU, was arrested by Maharashtra police on false charges of being a Maoist courier. Continue reading

Skouries: an ancient forest is Greece’s latest battle-ground

26 March, 2013

keep-calm-and-save-skouries-480x560

By Theodora Oikonomides and Zoe Mavroudi, Hellenic Mining Watch – Resistance to destructive mining in Greece

Skouries is the most important Greek story you’ll rarely hear about. It’s an ancient forest in northern Greece, where a mammoth Canadian gold-mining company is staking its claim.

Gold-mining, environmental concerns, state repression, police violence and a sturdy and organized local anti-mining movement have made Skouries a veritable battle ground in Greek politics, one that has received very little international coverage, clearly overshadowed by the escalating Greek crisis.

Greek company Hellas Gold and its main shareholder, Canada’s Eldorado Gold are working towards establishing a gold and copper mine in the ancient forest of Skouries in the northern region of Halkidiki but residents of the area’s 16 villages are strongly opposed to the project and have held several demonstrations against it over the past year, many of which have turned violent. Riot police have made excessive use of tear gas even inside the forest and in the villages, while residents have accused police of detaining people on trumped up charges, physically abusing them and even taking DNA samples from them against their will. Continue reading

Students in India fighting sexual harassment and patriarchal oppression of women

20 April 2012

Fight to strengthen GSCASH by making it a PUNITIVE BODY!

Every issue is a woman’s issue and no issue is a woman’s issue alone!

Fight to strengthen GSCASH by making it a PUNITIVE BODY!

Hold high the red banner of revolutionary women’s movement

 against feudalism, patriarchy & state repression!

Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) was instituted in JNU in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines in the Vishakha Judgment for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace. It was the students’ movement of this campus which demanded that GSCASH be put in place, as a result of which in 1998 it became the first such body to be established in the entire country. The progressive student’s movement also ensured elected students’ representation in GSCASH along with representation from all other sections of the campus. GSACSH was mandated to spearhead and strengthen the movement for a gender-just campus by fighting sexual harassment and patriarchy in all forms. Unfortunately, the institution seems to have replaced (or displaced) the movement rather than complementing it. And so, it has been easy for the administration to attack and weaken the GSCASH over the last few years. Today GSCASH stands severely weakened and constrained due to deliberate administrative assaults as well as in absence of a vibrant students’ struggle or women’s movement around it.

Even some of the so-called progressive organisations like AISA and SFI, while being in responsible positions of JNUSU, are complicit in undermining GSCASH by repeatedly defending sexual harassers even after they were found guilty by this body. Recently, none of these organisations raised any opposition when GSCASH elections too were brought under the purview of reactionary Lyngdoh recommendations. AISA and SFI had already surrendered JNUSU and its constitution to Lyngdoh, and therefore had no issues with GSCASH too being controlled through Lyngdoh. It was only because of the timely intervention of the student community along with DSU that GSCASH elections were separated from Lyngdoh-regulated JNUSU elections, and we now have GSCASH elections which are free from the discriminatory and meritocratic clauses of Lyngdoh. However, we must not forget that while we have successfully defended GSCASH from the clutches of Lyngdoh, unless we continue the struggle against Lyngdoh and intensify the students’ movement, any possibility of progressive change in the campus – including the strengthening of GSCASH – will be seriously jeopardised.

 GSCASH in the past few years has been reduced to a body simply for ‘sensitization’ of gender issues on campus. ‘Sensitisation’ or changing the consciousness towards gender and gender-based discrimination has its own importance. It undoubtedly encourages criticality about the given gender norms and roles. The problem comes when we merely stop at that. The structures of oppression that surround us need to be questioned, fought and ultimately smashed. Sensitization, debates, discussions and consensus-building can meaningfully address people who are willing to listen. However, we must think in terms of concrete programmatic action to challenge the very structures of patriarchy. Patriarchy, strengthened by semi- feudal semi-colonial social relations will not be defeated only by talking politely on its face. Ensuring punishment to sexual harassers is a primary precondition of ensuring justice, enhancing women’s space and building a gender-sensitive campus. GSCASH till now is not a punitive body in JNU. All it can do is to recommend punishment to the administration. The VC holds the discretionary power to implement or set aside the recommendations. Continue reading

The Indian State’s Murder of Kishanji–and “the hour that the ship comes in”

Kishanji: not just another ‘martyr’

November 28, 2011

by Saroj Giri, Sanhati

Kishanji is not just a fighter against oppression, a brave and courageous soul. He presided over something unique in the history of resistance movement in the country – and maybe he was not even so aware of it. Several forms of resistance seem to have come together in his leadership – synchronizing armed fighting power of the people with open rallies, processions and demonstrations. If one is really serious about democratic mass upsurges then one cannot wish away ‘strategy’, the ‘use of force’ or ‘armed resistance’; that the life-veins of mass struggle extend into the zone of armed resistance – these otherwise old Leninist lessons were restated, reasserted, renewed afresh in the life and activity of Kishanji.

It is in this sense that Kishanji in a way rehabilitated the status of both mass movements and ‘military strategy’ within the left. Continue reading