Denied basic amenities, Saibaba to begin hunger strike

The 90% disabled former professor at Delhi University is in solitary confinement in Nagpur jail

Prof G.N. Saibaba, who is lodged at the anda cell of Nagpur Central jail after being convicted for maoist links, is said to go on a hunger strike from October 21 as he is not been provided with clothes, medicines and books since a month. Prof. Saibaba, a polio victim, is 90% physically disabled and wheel chair bound, and suffers from pancreatitis, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, and chronic back pain.

“Saibaba has been denied reading material, medicines and clothes,” alleges his wife A.S Vasantha Kumari. She said, “Saibaba who is lodged in jail since 2014 has been denied all basic human rights where he is not given any letters or allowed any phone calls from me since over a month.”

Advocate Aakash Sarode who regularly delivers medicines, clothes and other essentials to Prof. Saibaba told The Hindu, “Last month I got a shirt, under garments, medicines, four books and two notepads for him in the jail. However none of it was taken by the prison authorities, without giving any reason for the same. I went back again two weeks back but they refused to take anything I got. I will try going once again before October 21.”

Ms Vasantha Kumari has also written letters to the Maharashtra Additional Director General of Prisons Sunil Ramanand and the Superintendent of Prisons (SP) Nagpur Anupkumar Kumre about “the hardships and harassment Saibaba faces in jail and is subjected to unfair restrictions.”

Mr Kumre confirmed that Prof. Saibaba will be going on hunger strike from October 21 and said, “It is a 200% baseless allegation that Saibaba is not provided with any medicines, books and clothes. Due to coronavirus we have stopped taking newspapers in jail since March but other than that books and letters are given to him after we go through them and decide on what is “right” and needs to be given to him.”

When asked, what considered “right”, Mr Kumre said, “The administration (which includes the SP, Additional SP and another prison official) verifies the books and sees if they are “nice”. Something on Gandhiji, or a freedom fighter, a story book or any mythological book is usually allowed. A magazine or any other reading matter has to be “correct” for the inmate. As far as clothes are concerned, due to corona virus we have stopped allowing any civil clothes inside the jail as it spreads the virus.”

Mr Ramanand told The Hindu, “The DIG is going to Nagpur jail tomorrow to ascertain the situation.”

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