Dr GN Saibaba, a 90% disabled teacher of Delhi University was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and arrested last year on May 9, 2014, violating all legal procedures. Dr Saibaba has not been given any facilities as a disabled person and was even denied proper medical treatment. So today, exactly a year after his arrest, on May 9, 2015, teachers and students from different universities across Delhi (i.e. University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Milia Islamia, Indra Prastha University, and Ambedkar University Delhi) are holding a day-long hunger strike to protest against his continuing and unjust incarceration. The General Body of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) passed a unanimous resolution in support of the hunger strike and also made an appeal to all the teachers to join the hunger strike.
Dr Saibaba’s only “crime” is that he stood in solidarity with the marginalized who were protesting against the corporate loot of natural resources. He was protesting with them against the current development model practiced in the world, which is making the already marginalized even more impoverished and taking away their sources of livelihood. Dr G N Saibaba, who comes from a similarly disadvantaged background, was trying to talk about the plights and suffering of the oppressed among the urban middle class, through his classroom teaching, activism, and by organising sympathetic voices. He was one of the most important important voices in the protest against the State sponsored Operation Green Hunt, against the adivasis of Chattisgharh. Surely, Dr Saibaba’s activites was a clear threat to the already crisis ridden State apparatus. It is to protect the crisis caused to the legitimacy of the State by activists and academics like him that the State started curtailing dissenting voice through arrest and torture. This is surely to send a threat to other such dissenting and undeterred voices. It is no wonder that the courts have rejected his bail three times despite knowing about his physical condition, the fact that the trial has not started even after a year, and that he is a person who neither can escape if he is released on bail nor can influence the trial in any manner.
After his incarceration, Dr Saibaba’s health has seriously deteroriated. A recent MRI scan, which was done under a court order, found his spine bent, kyposis and a degeneration of the two bottom vertebrae, which has caused stress on the nerves of his left hand made his hand dysfunctional. The doctors have also found rib crowding due to which his lungs have been pushed down. As his heart ailment has increased, the doctors have advised him to undergo an angiography. Further tests have also showed large stones in the gall bladder. Even the few medicines and other supplements that were provided to him when his bail application was in court, was withdrawn, once the bail was denied on 4 March 2015. At this point Dr Saibaba had to resort to a hunger strike from 11 April 2015, to demand his rights.
Today, the teachers and students of universities in Delhi and other activists have come together to protest against this unjust incarceration of a respected and loved colleague, who has always stood up for the rights of students, teachers and others both inside and outside the University. The gathering was addressed by: Prashant Bhushan, Arundhati Roy, Sanjay Kak, Ashok Bhowmick, Nandita Narain, Sachidanand Sinha, A.K Ramakrishanan, Apoorvanand, Manisha Sethi, Ish Mishra, Harish Khanna, Sanjay Joshi. The theatre group Space Theatre Ensemble performed songs and poems. AS Vasantha Kumari, the wife of Saibaba, explained briefly the present conditions.
We demand the release of Dr GN Saibaba. Let him be released on bail and let the trial continue as per the provisions for the infirmed persons as laid out in section 437 of CrPC.
The following is a short list of people on hunger strike:
1. Nandita Narain (President, DUTA)
2. Manisha Sethi (President JTSA & Jamia Milia University)
3. Sachidanand Sinha (President, JNUTA)
4. Ashok Bhowmick (Artist)
5. Dhani Ram (DU SC/ST Teachers’ Association)
6. Satinath Chowdhury (Independent activist and academic)
7. Naveen Gaur (Dyal Singh College)
8. Sanghamitra Mishra (Department of History, DU)
9. Rahul Govind (Department of History, DU)
10. Brinda Bose (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
11. Nandini Chandra (Department of English, DU)
12. Prasanta Chakravarty (Deparmtent of English, DU)
13. Nandini Dutta (Miranda House, DU)
14. Anirban Kar (Department of Economics, DU)
15. Sukumar N (Department of Political Science)
16. Ira Raja (Department of English, DU)
17. Jenny Rowena (Miranda House)
18. Biswajit Mohanty (Deshbandhu College, DU)
19. Sachin N (Dyal Singh College, DU)
20. Viraj Kafle (Dyal Singh, DU)
21. Ish Mishra (Hindu College, DU)
22. Rina Ramdev (Sri Venkateswara College, DU)
23. Hany Babu (Department of English)
24. Rakesh Ranjan (SRCC)
25. Drupadi (Jamia Milia Islamia)
26. Chaitanya Khandewal (Ambedkar University Delhi)
27. Devika (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
28. Bajrang Bihari (Deshbandhu College)
29. Najma Rehmani (Deparment of Urdu, DU)
& many others