The Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) strongly condemns the judgement by the Gadchiroli Sessions Court March 7, 2017 convicting Mahesh Tirki, Pandu Narote, Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Vijay Tirki and G N Saibaba, under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and awarding life sentence to five of them and a ten year imprisonment to another.
PPSC was initiated with the objective of focusing on the plight of adivasi and marginalized prisoners suffering under the criminal justice system in the armed conflict zones of central and eastern India. It is ironical that Prashant Rahi, one of the main motivators behind PPSC and an untiring worker for the rights and release of persecuted prisoners, is today a victim of the same criminal justice system which has imprisoned him for life for standing up for the victims of the war on people that is being waged by the state in vast parts of India.
The other victims of this judgement, which can at best be called a travesty of justice and at worst an open demonstration of the resolve of the state to punish all dissent, include Mahesh Tirki, Pandu Narote and Vijay Tirki, all adivasi youth from Gadchiroli and Chattisgarh, Hem Mishra a student and cultural activist from JNU and G. N Saibaba, a 95% physically challenged professor and activist from DU, all of whom have already suffered for many months in jail. Now they are looking ahead to many years in prison again, thanks to the vengeful Indian state which criminalizes all forms of dissent and protest using the criminal justice system and draconian laws such as the UAPA.
It is of not much use here in pointing out the blatant and glaring inconsistencies, generalizations, subjective observations and biased application of case law with which the entire judgement convicting the abovementioned people is riddled. It would be more instructive to understand the motivation behind the judgement, and the vengeance with which the verdict has been delivered. This is clear from para 1013 (pp 818-819) of the judgement which says “…the situation in Gadchiroli district from 1982 till today is in paralyzed condition and no industrial and other developments are taking place because of fear of naxal (sic) and their violent activities. Hence, in my opinion, the imprisonment for life is also not a sufficient punishment to the accused but the hands of the Court are closed with the mandate of Section 18 and 20 of UAPA and in my opinion it is a fit case to award sentence of imprisonment of life…”. It is clear that the judge rues the fact that exploitation of the adivasi people of Gadchiroli has not been possible because popular resistance, and holds the six accused guilty for that, and regrets that he cannot sentence them to death! Therefore, this judgement has been delivered clearly to serve the interests of the corporations and the state which is hell bent on plundering the resources of the adivasi areas in the name of industrialization and development. It is in the backdrop of the strong peoples’ resistance against iron ore mining in Gadchiroli that this judgement has been given, as a clear message to crush all resistance against corporate plunder of the natural resources which is being tried out in the vast area spread from Jharkhand to Maharashtra. During the same week, the judgment by a Gurgaon court convicting 31 workers of the Maruti Suzuki factory in Manesar, also clearly demonstrates that it is the interest of the corporations that courts all over India are serving and any resistance against these interests will be crushed brutally by using the criminal justice system.
We believe that the six convicted should be released immediately and charges against them should be dropped. We call upon all organizations and democratic-minded people to unite and protest strongly against this particular judgement and against the general persecution of the most marginalized sections of our population by the criminal justice system in the entire armed conflict zone of eastern and central India, and elsewhere, where the people are bravely resisting the state and corporations’ relentless attack on the lives and livelihoods of the working people.
Partho Sarothi Ray
On behalf of
Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC)
Authorities in Maharashtra are denying potentially life-saving medical treatment to Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba, putting his health at grave risk, Amnesty International India said today.
On 7 March, G N Saibaba, an activist and academic, was convicted of membership and support for the Communist Party of India (Maoist) – a banned armed group – and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Maharashtra court. He is being detained at the Nagpur central jail. Saibaba’s legs are almost completely paralyzed and he is a wheelchair user. In February, he was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and advised to have his gall bladder removed. Following his arrest, his condition has considerably worsened.
“Denying medical treatment to a prisoner is never justified, and can amount to torture,” said Abhirr VP, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India. “Saibaba has not lost his right to medical care simply because he is in prison. Authorities must transfer him to a hospital outside to receive any specialized medical care that he needs which is not available in prison.”
In a letter written to his wife on 14 March, Saibaba said: “With added new problems of an attack on my pancreas, I turned more vulnerable as I am not able to digest the food given in jail. Apart from all other 19 health issues of my vital organs, this problem has become severe as I have to eat something to take huge amounts of medicines and if I eat anything I am not able to digest.”
Speaking to Amnesty International India, G N Saibaba’s advocate, Surendra Gadling, said, “I met the professor on 21 March and he looked really weak. He has immense pain because of the acute pancreatitis and he needs to be admitted in a super specialty hospital where an immediate surgery must be done. The Nagpur central jail has no such facilities. We made an appeal to the court on 7 March to allow him his medicines, but the court did not grant permission… Prison authorities have also denied his request to wear a lungi instead of trousers, and a better mattress, since he has acute shoulder pain.”
Prison authorities refused to formally respond to Amnesty International India’s questions. An official at the Nagpur prison, who asked not to be named, said that jail doctors were treating G N Saibaba and that he was ‘fine’. They denied that he had been refused a lungi or a better mattress.
“When denying medical care to a prisoner causes severe pain or suffering and is intentionally done to punish or intimidate, it amounts to torture, which is a crime under international law,” said Abhirr VP.
G N Saibaba was denied medical care earlier as well, when he was detained by the Maharashtra police in May 2014 for his alleged links with the CPI (Maoist) armed group. In March 2016, the Supreme Court of India granted him bail on medical grounds after his health deteriorated. According to media reports, the court said the Maharashtra government had been “extremely unfair to the accused, especially considering his health”.
India is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, which impose an absolute prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, state that the provision of healthcare of prisoners is a state responsibility, and that prisoners “should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community” without discrimination. The Mandela Rules also provide that prisoners who require specialist treatment must be transferred to specialized institutions or outside hospitals when such treatment is not available in prison.
A week after the Sukma encounter, which killed 12 personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the maoist party released a press statement carrying an image of assembled modern weapons they Possessed from the dead CRPF personnel.
The picture along with the statement released by the South Bastar Divisional Committee of CPI (Maoist) showed four AK-47 assault rifles, six INSAS rifles, One Light Machine Gun (LMG), one Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) two wireless sets and over 1130 bullet cartridges taken away by the rebels.
The sessions court in Gurgaon on 18 March, 2017 sentenced 13 workers of Maruti Suzuki to life imprisonment for murder. Twelve of these are the erswhtile leaders of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union. Eighteen others were sentenced from three to five years for rioting and causing grievous injury. Cases against these workers were filed in July 2012 after violence in company’s Manesar plant during which one official unfortunately lost his life. On company’s complaint police arrested 148 workers and charged them with conspiracy and killing the company official.
The judgement of the District and Sessions Court in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, on March 7, 2017, which sentenced the Delhi University professor and four other activists to life imprisonment, is an unprecedented provocation for any defender of human and democratic rights anywhere. GN Saibaba, wheelchair bound for life, was judged as one of the greatest dangers for Indiaʹs security! He is shoved in jail to die there as he is severely ill. The accusation and sentencing was based on ridiculous evidence under the provisions of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act which criminalizes the ideas and thoughts of militants. Continue reading
Eight maoists and two policemen were killed in a raging encounter in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Saturday, police said.
Two security personnel were also injured in the gun battle going on in the forest of Barrempara village under Aranpur police station area of the state’s Maoist-affected Bastar region.
Explosives, one AK-47 and an SLR rifle were recovered from the spot.
Deputy inspector general (DIG) of Dantewada region Sunderraj P said a police team from Aranpur police station came under attack while patrolling the region.
“The encounter and combing operation are still on. More recoveries could take place,” added the DIG.
The injured security personnel have been identified as Dogendra Paul Patro and Sangram Singh Rana. Doctors attending them said they are out of danger.
Sources said a senior woman Maoist cadre ,Palle, was among those killed in the encounter.
At least nine CRPF personnel were killed when Maoists ambushed a road opening party of the paramilitary force in the state’s Sukma district last Saturday.