March 10, 2021 10:34:35 pm
Activists, politicians and intellectuals Wednesday demanded the release of wheelchair-bound Professor G N Saibaba, who has been convicted for alleged Maoist links and kept in solitary confinement at Nagpur Central Jail. They also demanded medical attention for the 90% disabled professor who had tested positive for Covid-19 on February 12.
Writer Arundhati Roy, advocate Prashant Bhushan, Communist Party of India leader D Raja, filmmaker Sanjay Kak, and Muralidharan from the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) were among those who spoke at a press conference at the Press Club of India Wednesday demanding his release. The event was organised by the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr G N Saibaba.
“It is crucial that Dr. Saibaba be examined for all his medical issues at the earliest, particularly for the impact of the Covid-19 on his brain and internal organs, at a hospital with adequate facilities to treat a person with such co-morbidities. His immediate family should be allowed to access and provide assistance to him. Furthermore, the jail authorities should be directed to provide his medical records to the family to ensure appropriate treatment is provided to him at the earliest,” the Committee said in a statement.
Speaking at the press conference, Vasantha, Saibaba’s wife, said he suffered from “several life-threatening ailments”, including “Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy with left ventricular dysfunction, hypertension, kidney stones, a cyst in his brain, pancreatic problems, attenuation of the shoulder and arm muscles, and nerves resulting in partial paralysis of his upper limbs”. A lot of these problems developed during his jail term, she said.
“I don’t understand what threat can a 90% disabled man pose to the government? There are people like Babu Bajrangi, Aseemanand and Pragya Thakur who get bail on medical leave or are acquitted. They even go on to contest elections. And here is someone who is totally dependent on others and needs assistance throughout the day but is not getting bail,” she said.
CPI leader D Raja also demanded Saibaba’s released. “Why are they afraid of Professor Saibaba? They are not afraid of his body…The government is afraid of the brain power of Saibaba, of the questions being raised by him. It is afraid of people coming out on the streets and asking questions of the government,” he said.
Muralidharan from NPRD said what was happening to Saibaba amounted to “torture, cruelty and indignity”. Stating that the government had included disability in the list of co-morbidities for Covid patients, he added, “Disability is not a disease…but even if you accept that, the government is acknowledging that disabled people are more vulnerable. Then why are they not releasing Saibaba?”
Advocate Prashant Bhushan said, “I would call upon the courts and the establishment to immediately release Saibaba and all other similar people (political prisoners). I would call upon all the courts in this country and tell them that the time has come to hold those police officers to account who are indulging in false implication and fabrication of evidence.”
Writer Arundhati Roy said what was happening now was not “politics” but “pathology”. Speaking out against the treatment meted out to Saibaba, she said, “Every single day something irreversible is happening to his body.”
Filmmaker Sanjay Kak said the state, through what it is doing to Saibaba, is also sending a message to those outside that they would be punished similarly if they spoke of people’s rights.
DU teacher Vikas Gupta and former DU Teachers’ Association Nandita Narain also spoke at the press conference.
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