Dr. G. N. Saibaba, a professor in Delhi University, is incarcerated under the draconian UAPA since 2014 and is in Nagpur Jail. He has 90% disability and this prolonged suffering in jail, under an abysmal condition with inadequate medical treatment, has produced grave physical ailments including gradual paralysis of his arms due to neglect. Repeated denial of parole or medical bail, in spite of his bad health condition and in the face of serious health-hazard posed by the Corona pandemic in overcrowded Nagpur jail, poses a grave threat to his life. He was even denied parole to take part in the last rites of his mother.
In jail, Dr. Saibaba is being denied necessary medical facilities. His wife, Vasantha Kumari, has written in the letter to the Additional DGP: “I have been informed that he is facing hardships and harassment in Nagpur Central Jail due to the inhuman behaviour and unfair restrictions laid down by authorities. … Sometimes all the medicines given by his advocates are not being given to him. He has multiple health problems and needs to take prescribed medicines every day to save his life.” (https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/g-n-saibaba-fast-threat-for-books/cid/1794959)
Dr. Saibaba is also denied a chance to receive letters and newspaper clips sent by his family members as well as books. These books are in English and freely available in the market, but still, these are being unduly confiscated and retained. The jail authority has stopped providing him with newspaper. His interactions with his family members over the phone have been severely restricted, and he also lacks a possibility to discuss his case with his lawyers due to a limited number of phone calls that he can make.
All these have forced Dr. Saibaba to observe a hunger-strike starting from 21st October 2020 in a bid to restore his rights as a political prisoner. This situation has an uncanny similarity with the treatment of Indian political prisoners during colonial rules that led to the protest fast undertaken by revolutionaries Jatin Das, Bhagat Singh and others locked up in the jails. In ninety-odd years, much water has flown through the Ganges, but the treatment of political prisoners by the rulers sees no change!
As democratic rights organisation, we condemn the harsh treatment received by Dr. Saibaba from the prison authority and want to remind the government about the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for which India is a signatory. For example, as per Article 10, Clause 1 of this Covenant, “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”. Also, the treatment meted out to Saibaba is violative of the international convention against torture as it violates the fundamental aims of Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the United Nations (UNCAT) that proscribes inhuman treatment as per Article 1 of UNCAT. India as a signatory of the convention in 1997 and it is obligatory on its part to ensure that Saibaba is provided proper conditions of as to not cause pain or agony, mentally or physical due to denial of such facilities conscious or instigation from authorities.
CDRO demands that as per the article 16 of UNCAT, GoI should allow a committee consisting of renowned personalities with human rights background to enquire and bring out the inhuman treatment meted out to him and initiate action on authorities involved in continuing this torture.
It is a common knowledge that all the people arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon (BK) case are senior citizens with medical ailments and are made to suffer under similar conditions. Besides them, there are many undertrial political prisoners who are languishing in different jails of the country and are at the mercy of the local jail authorities for their survival. CDRO strongly feels that all these undertrial political prisoners, including BK case, are victims at the hands of the state and their state of imprisonment without legal process tantamount to violation of Article 1 of UNCAT.
CDRO appeals to all democratic organisations and individuals to raise these concerns with the government and the jail authorities to ensure that Dr. Saibaba’s rights under the custody of the state are not infringed upon. CDRO further appeals to all democracy-loving citizens to build up political movement demanding the release of undertrial prisoners.
K.Kranthi Chaitanya, Prit Pal Singh, Tapas Chakraborty and V. Raghunath
(Coordinators of CDRO)
CO-ORDINATION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS ORGANISATION(CDRO)
Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR TamilNadu); Coordination for Human Rights (Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights ; Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (Hariyana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur, Delhi; Janhastakshep (Delhi)