Nagpur: Professor G.N. Saibaba, convicted by a Maharashtra court of being a supporter of Naxalites, and who readily confesses to being a champion of beleaguered tribals of Central India, is undergoing ‘life imprisonment’ in the dreaded ‘Anda cell’ of Nagpur’s infamous Central jail.
The previous inmate of this very cell was Yakub Memon, who was hanged within the jail premises ultimately.
Now Prof Saibaba is apprehensive that he will also breath his last in the same place. Not hanged to death,but as “victim of negligence and apathy”.
Saibaba is 90% disabled and his physical condition worsens by the day. He is wheelchair bound.
It’s been 8 months since former Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, was sentenced to life imprisonment, fter having been an accused undertrial for some time.
It is a learnt that he has written a letter to his wife stating that he will not survive the coming winter.
In the letter to Vasantha, his wife, Saibaba writes,
“I am frightened to think of the coming winter. Already I am shivering with continuous fever. I do not have a blanket. I do not have a sweater/jacket. As temperature goes down, excruciating pain continuously in my legs and left hand increases. It is impossible for me to survive here during the winter that starts from November. I am living here like an animal taking its last breaths. Somehow 8 months I managed to survive. But I am not going to survive in the coming winter.”
He goes on to note:
Saibaba goes on to note that no one is able to understand the struggle and condition of a 90% disabled person who is behind bars. Calling it criminal negligence, he writes,
“I am feeling so depressed for requesting you all so many times like a beggar, a destitute. But none of you are moving an inch, no one understands my present condition. No one understands 90% disabled person is behind bars struggling with one hand in condition and suffering with multiple ailments. And no one cares for my life. This is simply criminal negligence, a callous attitude.”
The letter appears to be have been written in late October. In it, the Prof. urges his wife to finalise his legal counsel at the earliest and asks her to inform his advocate, Surendra Gadling, to file his bail application in the first week of November or last week of October.
“You remember if this is not done in this way, my situation will be out of hands. I am not responsible. I am making clear to you. Hereafter I am not going to write about it any longer,” reads his letter.
He ends his emotional letter asking his wife to look after her health.
Vasantha has often complained about the condition her husband is jailed in. In a mail published by former
Supreme Court Justice Kadju, she had written Saibaba was “witch-hunted and framed because of his political beliefs.”
According to her, the trial was proceeding very slowly and five other accused had already got regular bail.
“Our experiences with the Nagpur prison authorities so far have been pathetic,” the mail read.
According to her, Saibaba is 90 per cent disabled, and due to this, he was finding his stay in the ‘anda’ cell “extremely difficult.” The cell, she said, is the “most hostile place for anyone to be.” “Saibaba has to do everything from going to toilet or washing his clothes on his own. Moreover, the ‘anda’ cell is an open space which becomes unbearably cold in winter,” the mail read.
Many prominent people like Justice Katju and Arundhati Roy have spoken out for more sympathetic treatment to be meted to Prof Saibaba given his precarious health, but, as in the case of Arundhati they have also been dragged into legal action for speaking up.
The apex court too had earlier gone on to accuse the Maharashtra government’s counsel, stating “You have been extremely unfair to the accused (Prof Saibaba), especially given to his medical examination.”
The case so far
Saibaba was first arrested in May 2014 from his residence in Delhi based on ‘incriminating material’.
According to sources, JNU student Mishra had told police during interrogation that he had acted as a courier between the professor and Maoist leaders.
The former professor was, however, granted bail after 14 months in jail. In March 2016, the Supreme Court had granted him bail on health grounds after his bail application had been rejected by the Bombay High Court.
In March this year, Saibaba along with four others, including former JNU student Hem Mishra and journalist Prashant Rahi, were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Gadchiroli Sessions Court in Maharashtra for their Maoist links and for “waging war” against the country.
The Prof who was out on bail in 2016 had surrendered again in December after his bail period was over.