The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G. N. Saibaba appeals to the Nagpur Central Jail authorities to provide Dr. G. N. Saibaba with adequate medical care, books and letters immediately!
The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G. N. Saibaba is pained to hear that Dr. G. N. Saibaba will be going on hunger strike to demand the basic rights of every prisoner, access to reading material, letters and medicines, even as his health is deteriorating and the threat of contracting COVID-19 looms large. Dr. G. N. Saibaba has resolved to observe a hunger strike starting from 21st October 2020 in light of the denial of basic medical facilities to him within the Nagpur Central Jail and the denial of books and letters sent to him from family and friends. Unfair restrictions and harassment faced by him are compounded by the inability of family or lawyers to visit him in jail due to the on-going global COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. G. N. Saibaba, a professor of English in Delhi University with 90% disability lodged in Nagpur Central Jail, is incarcerated under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) since 2014. He has spent the last several years suffering grave physical ailments including the gradual paralysis of his functional limbs due to neglect and continuous denial of adequate treatment by the jail authorities. The repeated denial of parole or medical bail to Dr. G. N. Saibaba despite his deteriorating physical health and the vulnerabilities of a person with co-morbidities facing the threat of contracting COVID-19 inside the over-crowded jail is a grave threat to his life. At this stage, withholding medicine provided by the lawyer is extremely concerning, and deprives him of crucial life-saving medicines that he may require. Previously, even parole to attend his mother’s funeral and last rites were denied. He has spent the last several years in an anda cell reading and translating texts and writing poetry. Books and letters are crucial for the well-being of every prisoner and the denial of access to them is a violation of their rights. Despite the family and advocates sending books to Dr. G. N. Saibaba over the last several months, books that are in English and freely available in the markets, they are being unduly confiscated and retained by the jail authorities without reason. Moreover, letters written by family members are also being confiscated and held by the authorities. This is a gross violation of the rights of a prisoner. Additionally, newspapers and news clippings sent by post are also being withheld.
Alarmingly, the basic medicines required for the different ailments suffered by Dr. G. N. Saibaba are being withheld endangering his life. Furthermore, the right of every prisoner to legal counsel is being violated in the name of the pandemic as he is not allowed to make more than two calls per month and lacks the opportunity to discuss his case with his lawyers. Dr. Saibaba has demanded these basic rights be ensured for a life of dignity within jail. Failure to provide these facilities has forced him to resolve to undertake a hunger strike. In light of his health, the on-going pandemic, the inability of family members and advocates to meet him and the wretched conditions within prison, a hunger strike is bound to endanger Dr. G. N. Saibaba’s life.
The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G. N. Saibaba appeals to the Nagpur Central Jail authorities to intervene and ensure the basic rights of Dr. G. N. Saibaba are upheld, he is provided medicines, books and letters and ensures that his life is not endangered. We appeal to all democratic organisations and individuals to raise these concerns with the Nagpur jail authorities to ensure that Dr. G. N. Saibaba’s rights under the custody of the State are not infringed upon.