GN Saibaba to go on hunger strike to protest being placed under CCTV surveillance

Family of the former DU professor and human rights activist urges Maharashtra Home Minister to remove the camera, alleging violation of his right to privacy

GN Saibaba

Former Delhi University professor and Human Rights Activist GN Saibaba, who is serving life sentence in Nagpur Central Jail under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) charges for alleged Maoist links, has threatened to go on a hunger strike if the CCTV camera placed in his cell, capturing and recording footage of toilet and bathing area, is not removed in two days.

As reported by the Wire, Saibaba’s wife Vasantha Kumari and his brother G. Ramadevudu have written to the Maharashtra Home Minister, Shri Dilip Walse Patil in the letter dated 14.05.2022 urging him to intervene in the matter and to protect Dr. Saibaba’s right to privacy and dignity.

The Indian Express quoted an excerpt from the family’s complaint, “On Tuesday (10.05.2022), the jail authorities fixed a wide-angle CCTV camera in front of his anda cell that can capture video of the entire cell including, toilet seat, bathing place, and everything in the small cell. So, he cannot use the toilet for urinals or cannot even take a bath before the camera, as the camera records video of everything 24×7 hours. Now how can Dr G N Saibaba live in these circumstances?”  

In the letter they reportedly inform the Minister, “The helpers are also intimidated by the closely watching camera since their bodies are constantly exposed to the eye of the camera. This is clearly to intimidate and insult him. This is a means to violate his privacy. His right to privacy, life and liberty is at risk because he cannot use the toilet, or take bath, or change clothes in front of a camera that’s not only running 24 hours but also recording everything and watched constantly in the office of the Jail superintendent.”

They reportedly add, “Under these strain conditions, he has decided to go on a hunger strike indefinitely till death or (till) the camera is removed, and the responsible prison administrators apologise for knowingly and brutally violating natural body rights and the rights provided by the constitution. Dr G N Saibaba is planning to start his hunger strike within two days in the Nagpur Central Jail.”

Finally, they reportedly urge, “We, request your kind self to take immediate action and provide him privacy, dignity and instruct the persons concerned in the Nagpur Central Jail to remove CCTV cameras that are keeping his privacy at stake and provide him required proper diagnosis and treatment for all his health issues immediately. As per his eligibility, grant parole and enable him to get proper medication and required medical support which is not available at Nagpur.”

As reported by the Wire, Dr. GN Saibaba suffers from ailments like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, hypertension, paraplegia, kyphoscoliosis of the spine, anterior horn cell disease, acute pancreatitis and a cyst in the brain. It is also reported that Prof. Saibaba’s left hand is on the verge of failure and there is acute pain spreading in both his hands.

Last week, it was reported that the Nagpur Jail authorities have been denying Prof GN Saibaba a plastic water bottle for three weeks. The former Delhi University professor, who is ninety per cent physically disabled and wheelchair-bound, has been finding it difficult to lift the small pot kept in his cell or even a glass bottle, and has reportedly been unable to hydrate himself adequately amidst soaring temperatures due to this.

Brief background of the case

The Sessions Court at Gadchiroli on May 7, 2017 sentenced Prof. Saibaba to life imprisonment under the Unlawful Prevention (Activities) Act (UAPA), for alleged links with banned organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist). He had appealed against the Judgment of the Sessions Court before the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, but his appeal has been pending for the last five years.

Dr. Saibaba, who has been a long-time defender of the rights of India’s minorities, especially Dalits, Adivasis and forest dwelling communities, against vested corporate interests, was first arrested in in May 2014, and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2017, for “waging war against the state”. As an activist and rights defender, Dr. Saibaba has campaigned against a push to end reservations for lower castes, as well as against “encounter killings” of innocent people in Andhra Pradesh. He launched the Forum Against War on People, in response to the Indian government’s Operation Green Hunt in India’s tribal belt, which allegedly cracked down on Adivasis in the region. He organised a national campaign against the operation that reportedly led to investors pulling out. In July 2015, he told The Hindu that the authorities felt “the best way to stop me was to throw me in jail.”


On what basis has GN Saibaba been sacked from DU?

Now, jail authorities deny GN Saibaba plastic water bottle!



Related Articles