Sunday, September 7, 2014

Protest against the denial of bail to Dr. GN Saibaba!

Condemn the denial of bail to Dr. G.N. Saibaba! Speak out against the state’s attempts to throttle the voices of dissent! Release Saibaba, Hem and all other political prisoners unconditionally!

In an extremely condemnable judgment yesterday, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court denied bail to DU faculty Dr. G.N. Saibaba who has been languishing in Nagpur Centrail Jail since May. Upholding the prosecution’s version which portrays him as a prominent Maoist “leader”, the court sidelined the arguments put forward by Saibaba’s lawyer that police have no evidence to substantiate their claims and one could not be branded a Maoist merely because one’s social activism may resemble Maoist ideology. It is ironical that the same Bombay High Court, which in a judgment pertaining to the members of the Kabir Kala Manch who were also branded as “Maoists” had said that highlighting issues of social and economic inequality far from being a “crime” is commendable, has chosen to prolong Dr. Saibaba’s incarceration for precisely this “crime”. The fact that Saibaba suffers from 90% disability and is wheel chair bound was not paid heed to by the court which eagerly accepted the prosecution’s version that he was being provided adequate facilities and medicines. In reality, far from that being the case, Saibaba is incarcerated in solitary confinement in extremely inhuman conditions without medicines and adequate facilities. Even to go the toilet, two or three other inmates have to hold him as the western style toilet (which is the only one he can use) is not there. As a result of all of this, he has already collapsed twice in prison. The same court which denied bail to Dr. Saibaba, was however forced to grant bail to the Uttarakhand journalist Prashant Rahi who was framed a co-accused in the case as the police could not produce any document which they claimed to have recovered from him as evidence of his Maoist links. The defence of Comrade Hem of our organisation, who is also arrested on similar bogus charges, is yet to be heard by the court.
It is extremely clear that the state’s attempts to prolong Saibaba’s incarceration, without any evidence to substantiate their cock and bull story around him, is politically motivated to silence a prominent voice of dissent.  Over the past few years, Saibaba’s political activism has earned the ire of several people – from the VC of the Delhi University to the likes of Chidambaram, Manmohan and now their successors in the BJP. Even a year before he started being directly hounded by the state officials, their loyal crony DU VC Dinesh Singh had already made all attempts to evict Saibaba from his university accommodation for his role in several movements in the university. However, Saibaba’s activism was not confined to the university alone and he attempted to bridge links with various movements across the sub-continent. When the Indian state’s armed personnel marched into the forests of Central and Eastern India to crush the valiant resistance of the adivasi population against corporate plunder, Saibaba, along with others, was instrumental in galvanizing a large section of intelligentsia, civil society, students and teachers against this war. As the convenor of the Forum against War on People, he meticulously tore down the curtain of silence and also shred apart the high-sounding myth of ‘development’ that the Indian state uses to hide or justify this war. He is also the Jt. Secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front which has sought to forge solidarities amongst the various people’s movements in the sub-continent.
For the last few years, the state was profiling Saibaba in various ways and finally arrested him on 9th May in the most surreptitious manner. He was clandestinely abducted on 9th May by plain-clothed policemen of the Maharashtra police just steps away from his residence as he was on his way back from examination duty. Saibaba was blindfolded and pushed into a vehicle that swiftly took him to the airport from whence he was flown to Nagpur. The surreptitious manner in which he was abducted by the police itself testifies that they were wary of following the usual procedure for arrest in the absence of any evidence against him at their disposal. For quite a while before his arrest, especially since the arrest of Comrade Hem, the state was making a concerted attempt to arrest and frame Saibaba. Sections of the media were running a most vicious media trial against him. There was a dastardly raid at his residence within the university premises in September 2013 by a joint team of 60 policemen with a ridiculous warrant of “search for stolen property”, who took away his hard disk, computer and mobile without any seal. Despite several representations to the Delhi University, the Chancellor as well as the NHRC (which incidentally took note of the gross violations during the illegal raid of his house) such harassments continued unabated. In January 2014, the Maharashtra police came with the pretext of a so called “interrogation” and resorted to blatant threats and intimidations. The next step thereby was to surreptitiously abduct him and frame him under absurd charges. Ever since his arrest, there have been extremely vocal protests not just in the country but all across the world demanding his immediate and unconditional release.

Saibaba and Hem’s arrests are not isolated cases. As fascism stares us on our faces, all those – be it writers, intellectuals, artists, journalists, people’s activists – opposing it and speaking for people rights are increasingly being silenced and put behind bars. The democratic rights movement of our country, which since the days of the emergency has spoken up for the release of political prisoners is now faced with the arduous challenge of rising up to the occasion once again. In today’s context of an undeclared emergency, we have to repeatedly remind the powers that be that for every voice that they may hunt down for speaking the truth, there will be thousands of others who will come forward to speak up for justice. DSU condemns in strongest possible terms the denial of bail to Dr. GN Saibaba and appeals to all progressive sections to demand the immediate & unconditional release of Saibaba, Com. Hem and all other political prisoners. 

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