IMUK (India Matters UK) appeals to you to support this petition for the immediate release of Prof. G N Saibaba and five others convicted under the act of UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act), and for the repeal of this controversial and unjust Act. IMUK is deeply concerned about the decision of the Sessions Court in Gadchiroli, in India’s State of Maharashtra to sentence Prof. G. N. Saibaba to life imprisonment along with five others under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The Change.org petition to free Professor Sai Baba can be found here
Prof Saibaba is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Delhi University, and an internationally known activist scholar and social justice campaigner. Until his arrest, Prof. Saibaba was one of lndia’s leading voices speaking out against state violence targeting the most vulnerable sections of Indian society. He has addressed international meetings, inc. the UK, to draw attention to violations of civil liberties, democratic freedoms and constitutional obligations by the Indian state, as well as land-grabs and large-scale displacement of indigenous and rural people.
In 2009 the Indian government launched an armed military operation called ‘Operation Green Hunt’ in the central Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh in order to forcibly evict indigenous and rural people and hand over their lands to global and national corporations for mining and manufacturing activities. Prof. Saibaba convened the national ‘No To Displacement’ campaign, a coalition of diverse national and regional organizations against the displacement of people. He is also recognized as a campaigner for the release of political prisoners and been instrumental in initiating the global ‘International Campaign Against War On People’.
Prof Saibaba is wheelchair-bound, 90% disabled and been paralysed from waist downwards since early childhood. In May 2014, whilst returning home from Delhi University, Prof. Saibaba was abducted by Maharashtra police. After not answering his phone his wife filed a ‘missing person’ report. It only then came to light that his abduction was to enable Maharashtra police to arrest him from Delhi in order to take him out of the state the very next day. We have had reports that whilst in prison Prof. Saibaba was tortured and denied medical assistance.
Saibaba then went on hunger strike to protest against his mistreatment. His health seriously deteriorated. Granting him temporary bail on medical grounds the Bombay High Court observed: “We are satisfied that if Mr. Saibaba is not released on temporary bail for medical treatment and supportive care, there is a risk to his life and health. After having considered his medical condition, this court would be failing in its duty to protect his fundamental right.”
Prof. Saibaba had been scheduled to undergo surgery for removal of the gall bladder within the month when on 6th March 2017 he was summoned to Gadchiroli to attend the reading of the final Order in his case. Saibaba was given to understand that he would only have to present himself in court for two hours for the reading of the Order, and therefore assumed that he had been acquitted. Instead, on arrival at the court Saibaba was immediately detained in custody and a sentence of life imprisonment was delivered.
Given his orthopedic and other serious ailments, Saibaba’s lawyer requested that an additional Order be passed to safeguard Saibaba’s health and provide vital medical treatment whilst in jail. However the judge flatly refused this request. We fear that Saibaba’s fragile health will again be severely affected whilst in jail and could prove fatal for him unless given full and timely treatment and proper medical attention.
Prof. Saibaba’s arrest and sentencing comes at a time of increasing widespread state violence against indigenous peoples, diverse nationalities (e.g. Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam), Dalits (marginalized castes), Muslims, Christians and women. It comes in the context of the arrest of human rights defenders, journalists, academics and students.
IMUK urges you to canvas your local MP and Councillors to take up the following matters with the UK Indian High Commission and demand to:
• Release Prof. G N Saibaba and the five others on bail and to conduct a transparent and fair trial. • Safeguard the health of Prof. G N Saibaba by immediately providing him necessary medical assistance in jail.
• Thoroughly investigate the case in which the above six have been unlawfully framed and convicted.
• Review the misuse and abuse of UAPA and provide and issue appropriate directions to the lower courts for the conduct of UAPA trials. • Insist the Government of India complies with international law on human rights, treatment of prisoners and fair trials.
• Review all cases of political prisoners who are in custody for more than six months. For more information about the case:
1. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/delhi-university-professor-gn-saibaba-sentenced-to-life-injail after-conviction-under-unlawful-activities-prevention-act/articleshow/57513839.cms 2. http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/du-professor-saibaba-gets-life-imprisonment-for-maiost-links 1667073 3. http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/03/13/prof-g-n-saibaba-victim-of-everything/ 4. http://www.firstpost.com/india/gn-saibabas-life-imprisonment-sentence-is-a-conspiracy-of-bjp-rsssays wife-vasantha-kumari-3321084.html
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