SANSAD News-release June 16, 2014
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) condemns the illegal arrest of Professor GN Saibaba, who teaches English in Ram Lal Anand College of Delhi University by Maharashtra Police on May 9. We further condemn his cruel detention in solitary confinement without regard to his disabilities, his suspension from Delhi University by the university administration following his arrest, and the denial of his bail plea by the Gadchirol sessions court in Maharashtra on June 13. We strongly protest these violations of human rights and civil liberties. We demand the immediate release of Professor Saibaba and his reinstatement in his teaching position in Delhi.
Professor Saibaba is an outspoken civil liberty activist, who as the deputy secretary of Revolutionary Democratic Front has been campaigning against the Indian government’s counter-insurgency measures known as “Operation Green Hunt.” His home in Delhi had been raided four times since September 2013 by the police before his arrest and transportation to Maharashtra on May 9 without warning and without access to a lawyer. Dr. Saibaba is a paraplegic who lost the use of his legs to polio as a child. He has 90% disability and has been bound to a wheel chair since he could afford one after his arrival in Delhi.
Dr. Saibaba has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, UAPA, one of the laws in the arsenal of the Indian state for the repression of its citizens and the prevention of dissent. He has been charged with allegedly being a member of a banned “terrorist” organization, CPI (Maoist), of having contact with its chairman, Ganapathy, providing logistics and helping recruitment. Several prominent human rights activists, including Gautam Navlakha and Arudhati Roy, as well as students and professors of Delhi University and Jwahar Lal Nehru University who demonstrated against Saibaba’s arrest, have pointed out that UAFA is a device for framing such charges as those against Saibaba to silence voices raised against the land grab by corporations for mining and on behalf of the adivasis who are displaced and terrorized in the interest of this “development.” The state merely has to declare an organization “terrorist” and ban it to get a free hand in suppressing any voice raised against the violence of the state by charging it of association with the banned organization.
G N Saibaba was born in a poor peasant family in Andhra, where his family lost the three acres of land it cultivated when Saibaba was 10. He lost the use of his legs as a child and crawled till he could afford a wheel chair as a teacher in Delhi. His education was made possible by scholarships he earned and by the assistance of his would be wife, Vasanthi. His love of literature led to his politics: he learned from the revolutionary Telegu writers such as Sri Sri and was inspired by the Kenyan writer, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, whom he met. This is the person the Indian state incarcerates in solitary confinement, without the minimal facilities to accommodate his disabilities and without attention to his cardiac condition because he has raised his voice against the state terror of “Operation Green Hunt.”
SANSAD, an organization of the South Asian diaspora in Canada demands the immediate release of Professor G N Saibaba and his return to teaching at Delhi University.