Date(s) - 10/01/2018
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
On the deteriorating health of Dr GN Saibaba
Demanding the immediate release of Dr Saibaba and all other political prisoners
10th January | Wednesday | 3pm | Press Club
To be addressed by:
Vasantha Kumari (WSS, wife of Dr Saibaba) , Nandita Narain (Prof., DU),
Sudha Bhardwaj (PUCL), Anil Chamadia (Senior Journalist), Biswajit Mohanty (Prof., DU)
and Gautam Navlakha (PUDR)
As Dr GN Saibaba, a political prisoner, continues to languish behind bars, there is a question that all democratic minded people should ask. Can we be silent while a person is persecuted simply because of his or her political views, ideas and opinions? Dr GN Saibaba has always been known to be someone who has been vocal about the well being of the tribals of this country; their right over their land, forest and rivers; their right to a life with dignity. He has been critical of a particular model of “development” in this country that has translated into death, destruction and displacement of the tribals in millions. He has been vocal against the war on adivasis sponsored by corporate greed for minerals in the name of Operation Green Hunt. He has been a public intellectual, a professor of English in Delhi University, and has written and spoken extensively about the above concerns in his public life both nationally and internationally. And for the same “crime” of his, for having given voice to his conscience, he has been convicted. Just like Dr Binayak Sen earlier, he has been branded as a “Maoist” and has been witch-hunted. While he is in the process of appealing to the higher courts against the injustice meted out to him, we are deeply concerned about his failing health that is fast deteriorating in neglect. His wife Vasantha just came back from Nagpur after visiting Dr Saibaba in jail and she would like to express her apprehensions about his physical well being. Along with Vasantha Kumari, Nandita Narain (Professor, DU), Sudha Bhardwaj (PUCL), Anil Chamadia (Senior Journalist) and Biswajit Mohanty (Professor, DU) and Gautam Navlakha (PUDR) will address the Press on 10th January, 2018 at 3pm in Press Club, New Delhi.
As a 90% disabled person owing to polio who has always been wheel chair bound, he also suffers from multiple other physical ailments. In fact, during his earlier incarcerations in prison in he was denied by the jail authorities several lifesaving medicines which ruined his health. To procure these medicines, to procure a bed, to get medical check up done, every time Saibaba had to approach the court. It was in fact owing to his failing health that the Supreme Court the bench led by Justice J S Kehar granted him bail in April 2016 on medical grounds admonishing the authorities for being “extremely unfair to him (Saibaba)… especially knowing his medical conditions.” Ever since his bail, he had been undergoing treatments in several hospitals in the country. Apart from polio which has affected both his legs there have been progressive and incurable conditions of his spine and nervous system. The medical neglect in jail had almost cost him one of his arms for which he was undergoing physiotherapy. In February 2017, Prof Saibaba was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and impacted gall bladder-stones, and was advised immediate surgery in a hospital where special facilities for treatment of people with severe disabilities is available. In fact just the week before the judgement that awarded him life imprisonment in March 2017, Dr. Saibaba was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit in a hospital in Delhi. While he was scheduled to undergo a surgery, he was sent back to the dungeon. The court this time even refused to pass a separate order on the plea of Saibaba’s lawyer to ensure his medical facilities referring these issues back to the same jail authorities who had denied all these last time. So, at the peak of winters the concerns over his health magnify again.
Last December, his wife Vasantha wrote to the Governor of Maharashtra that Dr Saibaba’s health “has become much deteriorated compared to my visit a month ago. A lump formed in his abdomen is growing and his health has becoming more critical. I was informed by my husband that the Prison authorities are also worrying about his health. There are no adequate and necessary medical facilities in the Nagpur Medical College Hospital, Nagpur to treat his ailments.” In a Press Statement issued last month, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled expressed serious concerns about his health and saying “He has 19 medical conditions for which he was undergoing treatment earlier. Due to this wilful neglect and denial of access to medicines, he has undergone blackouts frequently.” The same concerns were echoed even by Amnesty Interntional. “Denying medical treatment to a prisoner is never justified, and can amount to torture,” said Abhir VP, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
In a letter to Vasantha, his wife, Dr Saibaba wrote:
“We are small people working for small people’s rights in small ways. Why does this gigantic state fear our hopes, our love, our dreams? Have we done anything wrong to anyone? Did we have to harm anyone? Why are our lives violated? Why are dreams criminalised.? Why are hopes crushed? Can we live in our own world, in our little dreamy world on our own, dashing against brutal and inhuman violent attack on our dreams?”
As Dr Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki, Pandu Narote, Vijay Tirki, Prashant Rahi and hundreds of other voices of dissent, of conscience languish behind bars, the above questions of Saibaba should haunt all freedom loving, justice loving people.
From Bastar Solidarity Network (Delhi Chapter), we demand:
The immediate release of Dr. GN Saibaba and all other political prisoners.
We demand that Dr Saibaba be immediately transferred from Nagpur Central Prison to Cherlapalli Central Prison Hyderabad so that his family members residing in Hyderabad can meet and extend moral support to him. At the same time medical support can be extended to him at Hyderabad as there are many Government hospitals available with required facilities.
An end to the operation Green Hunt, corporate loot, atrocities on tribals, and displacement of adivasis by force to make way for mining mafia.
And end to the witch hunt of democratic right activists who speak up against the war on adivasis and against corporate greed.
Bastar Solidarity Network – Delhi Chapter