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GN Saibaba denied medical facilities, books, letters from family; threatens hunger strike

Activist AS Vasantha Kumari, his wife writes to the Nagpur Central Jail to intervene; Prof Saibaba has been denied bail multiple times, including for mother’s funeral 

Sabrangindia 17 Oct 2020

GN Saibaba

Dr. GN Saibaba, the Delhi University professor of English who is wheelchair bound with 90% disability, has threatened to go on a hunger strike from October 21 if he is not allowed to receive letters, books and medicines in Nagpur jail where he is lodged. The paralysed professor is serving a life sentence for alleged links with Maoists, and has previously complained of the lack of humane treatment in jail. The 53-year-old professor, who taught English at Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College, until his arrest in 2014.

His wife activist AS Vasantha Kumari had told SabrangIndia on many occasions that she feared for his life, and knew that he had not received the poetry books, newspapers and even medicines she had tried to send him through his lawyers. Reading, she had said, was essential for the professor and was his only source of mental strength as he battled physical ill health. He had recently been denied to visit his dying mother, and after she passed away was denied to participate in funeral rituals, Vasantha had said. 

She has now written to the head of Maharashtra’s prisons, additional DGP Sunil Ramanand, informing him that Saibaba will go on a hunger strike to protest “the inhuman behaviour and unfair restrictions laid down by authorities”. Dr Saibaba has been convicted under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and has been jailed often in solitary confinement in what is called the ‘anda cell’ or the egg-shaped cell. Vasantha had earlier alerted the authorities that Saibaba’s health was deteriorating fast over the years and she feared the worst. She has alleged that he is being neglected and us denied appropriate medical treatment by the jail authorities. 

According to Prof. G Haragopal, convenor of the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G N Saibaba, such treatment of an inmate is “condemnable”. He has appealed on behalf of the committee that the Nagpur Central Jail authorities provide Dr Saibaba with “adequate medical care, books and letters immediately”. He issued a statement that the committee was “pained to hear that Dr. G. N. Saibaba will be going on a hunger strike to demand the basic rights of every prisoner, access to reading material, letters and medicines, even as his health is deteriorating and the threat of contracting Covid-19 looms large”. 

Dr. Saibaba has resolved to observe a hunger strike “in light of the denial of basic medical facilities to him within the Nagpur Central Jail and the denial of books and letters sent to him from family and friends”. The committee added that the “unfair restrictions and harassment faced by him are compounded by the inability of family or lawyers to visit him in jail due to the on-going global Covid-19 pandemic.”

It added that the “repeated denial of parole or medical bail to Dr. G. N. Saibaba despite his deteriorating physical health and the vulnerabilities of a person with co-morbidities facing the threat of contracting Covid-19 inside the over-crowded jail is a grave threat to his life.”

According to Prof Hargopal, Dr Saibaba has “spent the last several years in an anda cell reading and translating texts and writing poetry. Books and letters are crucial for the well-being of every prisoner and the denial of access to them is a violation of their rights. Despite the family and advocates sending books to Dr. G. N. Saibaba over the last several months, books that are in English and freely available in the markets, they are being unduly confiscated and retained by the jail authorities without reason.” The statement added that even “letters written by family members are also being confiscated and held by the authorities” and that this “is a gross violation of the rights of a prisoner.” 

It was stated that in Saibaba’s case “the right of every prisoner to legal counsel is being violated in the name of the pandemic as he is not allowed to make more than two calls per month and lacks the opportunity to discuss his case with his lawyers. Dr. Saibaba has demanded these basic rights be ensured for a life of dignity within jail.”

 

Related: 

GN Saibaba denied permission to attend post funeral ceremonies of dead mother

GN Saibaba denied bail to see his dying mother

What lies behind the high walls of Indian prisons?

Covid-19 a death sentence for Prof. Saibaba: Wife demands release

If Premchand has really touched Modi, why are so many scholars rotting in jails?

GN Saibaba denied medical facilities, books, letters from family; threatens hunger strike

Activist AS Vasantha Kumari, his wife writes to the Nagpur Central Jail to intervene; Prof Saibaba has been denied bail multiple times, including for mother’s funeral 

GN Saibaba

Dr. GN Saibaba, the Delhi University professor of English who is wheelchair bound with 90% disability, has threatened to go on a hunger strike from October 21 if he is not allowed to receive letters, books and medicines in Nagpur jail where he is lodged. The paralysed professor is serving a life sentence for alleged links with Maoists, and has previously complained of the lack of humane treatment in jail. The 53-year-old professor, who taught English at Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College, until his arrest in 2014.

His wife activist AS Vasantha Kumari had told SabrangIndia on many occasions that she feared for his life, and knew that he had not received the poetry books, newspapers and even medicines she had tried to send him through his lawyers. Reading, she had said, was essential for the professor and was his only source of mental strength as he battled physical ill health. He had recently been denied to visit his dying mother, and after she passed away was denied to participate in funeral rituals, Vasantha had said. 

She has now written to the head of Maharashtra’s prisons, additional DGP Sunil Ramanand, informing him that Saibaba will go on a hunger strike to protest “the inhuman behaviour and unfair restrictions laid down by authorities”. Dr Saibaba has been convicted under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and has been jailed often in solitary confinement in what is called the ‘anda cell’ or the egg-shaped cell. Vasantha had earlier alerted the authorities that Saibaba’s health was deteriorating fast over the years and she feared the worst. She has alleged that he is being neglected and us denied appropriate medical treatment by the jail authorities. 

According to Prof. G Haragopal, convenor of the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G N Saibaba, such treatment of an inmate is “condemnable”. He has appealed on behalf of the committee that the Nagpur Central Jail authorities provide Dr Saibaba with “adequate medical care, books and letters immediately”. He issued a statement that the committee was “pained to hear that Dr. G. N. Saibaba will be going on a hunger strike to demand the basic rights of every prisoner, access to reading material, letters and medicines, even as his health is deteriorating and the threat of contracting Covid-19 looms large”. 

Dr. Saibaba has resolved to observe a hunger strike “in light of the denial of basic medical facilities to him within the Nagpur Central Jail and the denial of books and letters sent to him from family and friends”. The committee added that the “unfair restrictions and harassment faced by him are compounded by the inability of family or lawyers to visit him in jail due to the on-going global Covid-19 pandemic.”

It added that the “repeated denial of parole or medical bail to Dr. G. N. Saibaba despite his deteriorating physical health and the vulnerabilities of a person with co-morbidities facing the threat of contracting Covid-19 inside the over-crowded jail is a grave threat to his life.”

According to Prof Hargopal, Dr Saibaba has “spent the last several years in an anda cell reading and translating texts and writing poetry. Books and letters are crucial for the well-being of every prisoner and the denial of access to them is a violation of their rights. Despite the family and advocates sending books to Dr. G. N. Saibaba over the last several months, books that are in English and freely available in the markets, they are being unduly confiscated and retained by the jail authorities without reason.” The statement added that even “letters written by family members are also being confiscated and held by the authorities” and that this “is a gross violation of the rights of a prisoner.” 

It was stated that in Saibaba’s case “the right of every prisoner to legal counsel is being violated in the name of the pandemic as he is not allowed to make more than two calls per month and lacks the opportunity to discuss his case with his lawyers. Dr. Saibaba has demanded these basic rights be ensured for a life of dignity within jail.”

 

Related: 

GN Saibaba denied permission to attend post funeral ceremonies of dead mother

GN Saibaba denied bail to see his dying mother

What lies behind the high walls of Indian prisons?

Covid-19 a death sentence for Prof. Saibaba: Wife demands release

If Premchand has really touched Modi, why are so many scholars rotting in jails?

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