Wheelchair-bound paralysed prisoner GN Saibaba was on a hunger strike for 10 days!

Family was not informed, he called and told them after Nagpur Jail authorities convinced him to end the protest

All weekend human rights activist AS Vasantha Kumari has been worried if the Nagpur Central Jail authorities have finally given her husband Prof GN Saibaba the food, medicines, and reading material he requested. The Professor had made a brief call to his wife on November 6 to inform her that he had just ended his 10-day hunger strike, after the Jail authorities agreed to give in to some of  his demands for newspapers, books, and letters. “I didn’t even know he had gone on a hunger strike, that too for 10 days,” she said she was shocked at the call from her husband and that neither she, not Saibaba’s lawyers, had not got any information about the hunger strike. “He said they gave him some lemon water to end the hunger strike, but why did they even let it go on for 10 days. His health is not good even on normal days. I am so worried now,” said Vasantha.  

She had convinced him not to go on hunger strike last month as she feared for his life. “I had wanted to get an update about his health and did not get any information. Then he only makes a short call and tells me he was on hunger strike from October 28 till November 6,” she said adding, “The lawyer managed to drop off some of Saibaba’s essential medicine but is still not allowed to meet him because of the jail’s Covid-19 rules. I do not know for sure how he is feeling after such a long hunger strike.”

Vasantha  says her only source of information remains the media, and the rare phone call from Saibaba. “They do not allow us to talk comfortably in our mother tongue Telugu, only English. We are only allowed to write our letters in English. My English is not good at all, and I struggle to express what I want to say. I cannot ever share personal feelings in English. I only manage to ask about health and tell him news updates. I do not know why they create this language problem for Saibaba and me only. Other inmates are allowed to speak in Marathi if that is their mother tongue, but we cannot speak in Telugu? They record all conversations, and read all our letters. We are not hiding anything. Then why?” asked an emotional Vasantha, who refuses to budge from Delhi because she feels the case for parole for her husband may be decided in their favour soon.

The parole application has been rejected multiple times so far, but she remains hopeful, “We will go to hyderabad together one day”. Vasantha and Saibaba are yet to complete the traditional post death ceremonies for his mother who died waiting for his return. 

The 53-year-old professor who is serving a life sentence for alleged links with Maoists, taught English at Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College, until his arrest in 2014  under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Dr. GN Saibaba is wheelchair bound with 90% disability, and is suffering from multiple comorbidities that put him in the most vulnerable category of those susceptible to Covid-19 infection. He had threatened to go on a hunger strike from October 21 if he was not allowed to receive personal letters, books and medicines in Nagpur jail where he is lodged. 

Meanwhile, as soon as they learnt of the hunger strike, the Committee for the defense and release of  Dr. GN Saibaba issued the following statement:



Yesterday i.e 06.11.2020 late evening, Dr. G.N. Saibaba talked to his family members over a phone call from Nagpur Central Jail.  Dr. Saibaba informed that he was on hunger strike for about 10 days from 28th October 2020 to 6th November 2020 since his demands previously agreed to were not implemented.  This information was actively suppressed from the family, and we were not aware of the fact that Dr. Saibaba began this painstaking ordeal. 

The committee, along with his family members had made several efforts by sending emails, messages and making calls to the Jail authorities to know whether Dr. G.N. Saibaba is on a hunger strike or not. In our communications to Jail Authorities requested Saibaba not to go on hunger striker due to his precarious health condition. There was no response on this regard from the jail authorities. The jail authorities did not even inform the advocates at Nagpur about his hunger strikes despite their several attempts to confirm this news by physically going to the prisoner premises. The fact that Dr. G.N. Saibaba went on a hunger strike, was suppressed. Requests for emergency phone calls by family members went unheard and ignored during this period.

The committee and the family could only access this information yesterday via his monthly phone call that he sat on hunger strike from 28th October 2020. On 6th November 2020, around 1:30 PM, Dr. Saibaba broke-down his hunger strike after 10 days with the assurance to implement his demands from the Jail higher authorities.  He is currently being kept on an I-V drip since the hunger strike took a toll on his body.

 The following demands were agreed by the Jail authorities to implement immediately:

  • Asking the jail personnel to provide medical records from more than a year, to assess his health condition and for legal action. So far, they did not provide these medical records. Now, they agreed to give a set of medical records. 
  • The doctors at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Nagpur advised to provide physiotherapy on regular basis along with supply of cold packs, a set of pillows etc. to Dr. Saibaba long back.  The jail authorities now agreed to provide   physiotherapy and occupational therapy to him.
  • Previously jail authorities did not allow Telugu books and letters written in Telugu. It was agreed that these will be given to him after scrutiny and hence a delay will occur to reach him. 
  • Agreed to handover the Books and Journals in English immediately and will not be stopped.
  • Whenever required he will be provided with the medical support and supply of medicine will not be stopped. 
  • As he was languishing between the four walls of the Anda cell, the authorities agreed to take him outside for fresh air in the morning and evening. 

The following demands were not agreed:

  1. Did not agree to give a receiving copy of his complaint letters submitted to the prison authorities.
  2. Did not agree for the transfer of prison from Nagpur to Hyderabad as it is not in the purview of Jail authorities. 

We demand the jail authorities to assure prisoner’s legitimate rights and are maintained according to the laws. It is the responsibility of the jail authorities to inform the family members about his well being. The Committee condemns this attitude of the authorities. We are glad that Dr. Saibaba is safe even though he has undergone a hunger strike. He shall be supplied with all necessary medicines, supplements and food to recover from the weakness. The Committee notes that the jail authorities should immediately implement his demands and emphasizes that emergency phone calls made by the family members must be allowed.


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