Members of the Telugu Church in Vancouver came together on Tuesday, April 6, to denounce the incarceration of the disabled Indian scholar G.N. Saibaba. A former Delhi University Professor, Saibaba continues to face inhuman conditions in an Indian jail after being convicted in 2017.

First arrested on trumped-up charges in 2014, for merely speaking out against the repression of religious minorities, and the Adivasis (indigenous communities), wheelchair bound-Saibaba is suffering with various ailments and was recently tested positive for COVID 19.

He was instrumental behind mobilizing public opinion against the forcible eviction of Adivasis from their traditional lands by the extraction industry, with the backing of the Indian government.

After being branded as a Maoist sympathizer, he received a life sentence in 2017. Notably, Maoist insurgents are active in the areas inhabited by the Adivasis. Even though United Nations human-rights experts have asked for his release due to his deteriorating health, the government remains adamant. So much so, he was neither given a temporary release to see his mother on her deathbed, nor allowed to attend her last rites.

Recently, he was arbitrarily sacked from the Ram Lal Anand College of the University, where he used to teach, sparking angry reaction from academics in India. The statement made by Telugu Church expressed concerns about his situation and asked for his release.

According to John Yajala, the church believes that Saibaba is facing unfounded and false allegations. “We are praying to the God that he should be released at the earliest.”

Though Saibaba is a Telugu, campaign for his release in Canada has received wider support from other communities, especially the Sikhs who have a sizable population in different provinces of the country. Thousands of Sikhs have signed the petition asking for his freedom on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.


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