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Archives for : Political Prisoners

Haryana Police Action Forced Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa to Jump Off the Water Tank: Eyewitnesses

By- Sikh Siyasat

Kurkshetra, Haryana: Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa yesterday evening jumped off a water tank situated at his village Thaska Ali where he had started hunger strike seeking release of Sikh political prisoners who have completed minimum mandatory terms of their sentences.


A team of Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) today visited the village Thaska Ali and talked to the natives who said that the police action had forced Gurbaksh Singh to jump off the water tank. Villagers told SSN that Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa had started indefinite hunger strike at around noon on Tuesday (March 20, 2018).


He was accompanied by his family members and others and after performing Ardas he came to Water Tank complex and went upstairs on the Tank. Satinderpal Singh, a resident of village Thaska Ali said: “As soon as people came to know about the protest they started gathering around the water tank. When I came here I saw that Bhai Sahib (Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa) was sitting on a balcony of the Water Tank and the door of stairs was locked from outside”. “Uh panni da camper te bistra lai ke utte gye c … unha agge vee lamba sama sangharsh keeta c” (He had taken a camper of water and beddings with him over the water tank … he had protested for long terms earlier also), Satinderpal Singh said while adding that there was not point for him to jump off the tank in normal course of his struggle.

He said that the police was trying to force him to come down and after the police started to go upstairs it was only then he jumped off the tank. SSN team saw that the boundary wall of the water-tank complex was demolished from a side and there were two heaps of earth/soil on one side of the tank.

Villagers told SSN that the police and administration had demolished this wall yesterday around evening and the soil heaps were created. Villagers opined that the police had not taken enough precautionary measures before attempting to forcibly bring Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa down.

A villager told SSN that the net placed by the police was merely a formality as it covered around ten squarefeet and it was no way a sufficient measure. Villagers who were present on the spot when Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa jumped off the water tank told SSN that Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa was repeatedly asking the police to back-off warning that if police try to forcibly bring him down he would jump off the tank.

“Unna keha vee c ke tusin mainu majboor na karo, te savere 8-9 vaje tak aa jaaeo te masle baare gall kar lavange. Par police valle manne nahin te kehnde asin hun appne tareeke naal hee tenu thale laavange” [He (Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa) had told the police to not to force him and to come for talks around 8-9 am in the morning but the police did not agree and said they would bring him down in their own way], said an eye-witness.

“Jiven hee police tala tod ke uppar jaan lag payi taan unna ne school vaale paase shaal maar ditti” (As soon as the police started going upstairs after bearking open the door lock, he jumped off the tank on school side), said Satinderpal Singh.

EXCLUSIVE TALK with EYEWITNESSES: Police Action Forced Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa to Jump Off the Water Tank [VIDEO]

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Activists condemn the inhuman treatment of Prof. GN Saibaba by the Maharastra government

Former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba and four others were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Gadchiroli sessions court in Maharashtra in 2014.


He spent 14 months in jail before the Bombay High Court granted him bail for six months in July 2015 in view of his deteriorating health condition.He had to surrender and again go back to jail in December 2015.


A Supreme court bench in March 2016, acted on a special leave petition challenging the rejection of bail for Saibaba and granted him bail on medical grounds. The Counsel of the Maharashtra government was also reprimanded by the Apex court for being ‘extremely unfair to the accused, especially given his medical examination.’ The Supreme Court had cited his medical condition where he suffers from 90% disability following a childhood polio attack.  He continues to be in the Central Prison Nagpur till date.

Professor Saibaba has 90% post-polio disability and is completely wheel chair bound. On February 22, 2017, Saibaba had complained of chest pains and was taken to a local hospital, where he had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. He was said to have a pancreas infection, besides stones in his gall bladder stones. Doctors had recommended he have surgery in three weeks, after recovering from the infection. In addition to the acute pancreatitis there is a possibility of post pancreatitis abscess which is a medical emergency requiring urgent care. He also has left brachial plexopathy which requires sustained and long term intervention.

Since Prof. Saibaba already has serious disability, it is important that all efforts are made to ensure maximum functional ability of his motor system. This would require long term and intensive medical, surgical and physiotherapy intervention. A 90% disability would also warrant a full time carer to ensure that he is able to perform his activities of daily living with dignity and with minimum distress. Prof. Saibaba’s current incarceration in the Nagpur central jail and deteriorating health condition gives clear indication that he is being denied access to adequate medical care as well as a full time carer.

India has made a commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) with Article 15 (1) stating that “No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’ Article 15 (2) further places the state under obligation to protect persons with disabilities from ‘cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment and punishment’. State parties ‘shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.

In the case of Prof. Saibaba who requires support and assistance for daily living, denying him the right to accessible facilities for personal care and hygiene violates his right to dignity and bodily integrity, both guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and Article 17 of the UNCRPD. It amounts to torture by the government of Maharashtra.

Professor Saibaba requires comprehensive healthcare for all his healthcare needs with a full time carer. For this, and as directed by the Supreme court, the investigating authorities must release him from custody forthwith and carry out any investigations they may require, without infringing on his right to human dignity and fundamental freedoms, and in full compliance with the Constitution and the UNCRPD.


  1. Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher, Email: [email protected]
  2. Deepika Joshi, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhatisgarh, Email: [email protected]
  3. Mohan Rao MBBS, PhD, Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, Email: [email protected]
  4. R Srivatsan, Independent Scholar, Email [email protected]
  5. Siddharth Joshi, Independent research, Email: [email protected]
  6. Sana Contractor, Public health Researcher, New Delhi.
  7. Pushpa Achanta, Journalist & Trainer, Bangalore, [email protected]
  8. Kamayani Bali Mahabal health and human rights activist, Mumbai [email protected]
  9. G Ravi , Disability Right Activist , Bengaluru. [email protected]
  10. Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali ([email protected])
  11. Dr B Karthik Navayan, Human Rights Activist, Bangalore [email protected]
  12. Madhu Bhushan, Independent women’s rights activist, researcher [email protected]
  13. Shakun M Doundiyakhedis. [email protected]
  14. Dr Shakeel, Executive Director, Centre for Health And Resource Management, Patna.
  15. Dr Gopal Dabade. Drug Action Forum Karnataka. 57. Tejaswinagar. Dharwad 580002. 9448862270. [email protected]
  16. Teena Xavier, Public Health activist, Gulbarga
  17. Archana Bidargaddi, Software Engineer, Bergen Norway  [email protected]
  18. Sulakshana, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Chhattisgarh, [email protected]
  19. Radha Holla Bhar, Independent researcher, Child health and nutrition, Email: [email protected]
  20. Alwyn Prakash D’Souza, Head, Human Rights and Training Unit, Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru. Email: [email protected]
  21. Robert Anthony, Surgeon, Bangalore
  22. Amar Jesani, Independent Researcher and Teacher (Bioethics, Public Health) [email protected]
  23. Sarojini N, JSA, New Delhi. [email protected]
  24. Pallavi Gupta, Independent Consultant, Public Health, [email protected]
  25. Vinay K Sreenivasa ,  Advocate, [email protected]
  26. Bindu N. Doddahatti, Advocate, Alternative Law Forum, [email protected]
  27. Kshithij Urs, Visiting Professor, National Law School of India. Email: [email protected]
  28. Ramdas Rao, Member, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Karnataka [email protected]
  29. Cynthia Stephen, Co-founder Dalit Women’s Network for Solidarity (DAWNS) and/or President, TEDS Trust, [email protected]
  30. Stanley JG Thangaraj, Hyderabad Email ID: [email protected]
  31. R.Manohar, Regional Coordinator, South India, Human Rights Defenders Alert(HRDA), [email protected]
  32. Narendra Gupta
  33. Harsh Mander
  34. Dr. Ravichandran Bathran, Dalit camera
  35. Karthik Bittu
  36. Deepak Malghan, IIIM Bangalore
  37. Jyoti Punwani, Freelance journalist, Mumbai
  38. Dhruva Narayan, Founding Trustee, JANAM Foundation, Patna
  39. Preeti Sinha, Editor, Filhaal, Hindi journal from Patna.
  40.  Dipa Sinha, Ambedkar University Delhi
  41. Deepa V, [email protected]
  42. Santosh, research scholar JNU
  43. Sebastian Devaraj, Social Activist & Executive Trustee, Fedina, Email. [email protected];
  44. Dr. Imrana Qadeer, Delhi
  45. Dr Vikas Bajpai, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  46. Pushkar raj (Author, former National General Secretary PUCL), Melbourne


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Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa jumps off water tank in Kurukshetra, dies

Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, 52, committed suicide on Tuesday by jumping off a water tank at his native village Thaska Ali in Kurukshetra district.

Khalsa has been demanding release of Sikh radicals who have completed their jail term but are still lodged in various prisons across India.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Kurukshetra superintendent of police Abhishek Garg said: “He (Khalsa) jumped off the village water tank and was declared dead at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash government hospital here. In the preliminary investigation, it was found that he was demanding release of some people”.

Police have registered a case under section 174 of the CrPc. The body will be handed over to the family after the autopsy.

Police said Khalsa had climbed atop the water tank around 1pm after being presented a ‘siropa’ by the family members of Sikhs lodged in jails. After shouting slogans, Khalsa jumped off the tank.

Apprehending protests by Khalsa supporters, police have stepped up vigil in the area.

Khalsa had been seeking the release of seven Sikh prisoners, including those convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.. In November 2013, he went on a 44-day hunger strike at a gurdwara in Punjab’s Mohali. He ended his strike on December 27, 2013 after reportedly getting an assurance from the government.

However, when the detainees were not released, he restarted his hunger stir on November 14, 2014.

Hindustan times

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India – Horrors of Byculla jail trigger reforms for women’s prisons

Ants in oil, stones in rice, insects in dal. If they complained, they were beaten up. Inmates asked to pay in turns to have their toilets cleaned

Committee that studies conditions in Byculla jail, where a prisoner was allegedly beaten to death last year, recommends independent manual for women’s prisons

Women’s prisons across the country should have their own jail manual and must be better equipped to cater to the needs of its inmates, a committee constituted to study the conditions of women’s jails has recommended.


The committee headed by member of Parliament Vandana Chavan was asked to carry out the study in the light of the death of Manjula Shetye in Byculla jail in Mumbai last year. Shetye was allegedly beaten to death by the jail staff. Six members of the jail staff were arrested in connection with Shetye’s death. The committee was set up after a team headed by Chavan visited the Byculla jail and revealed its horrifying living conditions in a report to Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. The report said that not only were the inmates not allowed to meet their family members, in most cases they had no idea about the charges against them or the stage at which their trial was.

The report also said the women were provided only six sanitary napkins and if a seventh pad was found in the ration bag, they would get beaten up. “There are ants in the oil, stones in the rice and insects in their dal and if they complained about this they were beaten up or reprimanded. They are also asked to pay in turns to have the toilets cleaned,” the report said.

In response to the report, the minister asked Chavan to constitute a larger group of experts, expand the scope of its study to women’s jails across the country, and come up with recommendations to overhaul the existing system of governance based largely on intimidation and extortion.

The committee – comprising of experts from law colleges and NGOs – has recommended that the new manual must clearly define the jail superintendent’s duty, make video links between jails and courts mandatory, and improve recreational facilities.

The committee has also recommended that provisions for enabling more jails to be run by only female staff should be made and that prison staff should be made accountable for grievance redressal within a specified time.

The committee’s other recommendations are: ** Separate mother-and-baby unit in every women’s jail.

** Express mention for the minimum time allowed to a prisoner to spend outside the cell.

** Difference in the rights for serious and non-serious offenders ** Voting rights to non-serious offenders.

** Adequate CCTV camera coverage.

Talking to Mumbai Mirror on Friday, Chavan said the Shetye case was an eye-opener.

“I have submitted the report to the minister with the committee’s recommendations. She is likely to take it up in the next Parliament session,” she said.

Inmates of the Byculla jail rioted in June last year after Manjula Shetye, one of the prisoners, died after she was allegedly beaten up by the jail officials

A file photo of Manjula Shetye

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Jailed DU professor G N Saibaba“I am on a Month’s Lease of Life. Justice or Death, Which Will Win?”

His Partner, Vasantha Kumari  wants him shifted to Hyderabad jail, says his life is in danger in Nagpur

Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged ties to Maoists. He is 90% disabled and his internal organs are failing. But he is not getting any medical attention.
Vasantha Kumari

Professor GN Saibaba, who was given a life imprisonment for alleged ties to Maoists, continues to suffer in solitary confinement in prison despite absence of any credible evidence against him. Saibaba’s partner , Vasantha Kumari, addressed a press conference on Wednesday, held by the Delhi Chapter of Bastar Solidarity Network. She spoke about her recent meeting with Saibaba in prison, his deteriorating health condition, and how the state is denying him basic human rights which are granted to prisoners.

Saibaba is 90% disabled and his internal organs are failing. But he is not getting any medical attention. In his last letter to Vasantha, the DU professor wrote, “I am on a month’s lease of life. Justice or death, which will win?” Vasantha says the state wants Saibaba to die in prison to serve as an example to those who raise their voices for human rights and against state-sponsored oppression.

Vasantha demanded that Saibaba be shifted to a jail in Hyderabad, where his family lives, so he can be treated at good government hospitals. “He goes for many days without any medicine, and three to four times, he lost unconsciousness and bled from the ears and nose,” Kumari said in New Delhi. “There is no attention being paid to his health, the doctors don’t visit.”

Vasantha said, “I met Saibaba on 21st December. But in Nagpur Central Jail the jail mulaqaat is such that I can’t even see him properly. There are two layers of fiber glass and a layer of steel bars between us, such that I can only see a hazy vision. After lot of coaxing I could just squeeze out 20minutes from the guards. In this circumstances it is difficult to understand how he actually is. If I want not give him blanket or books, I have to make a list and give it to authorities. Similarly, if Saibaba requires something, he needs to give list. The superintendent ticks whatever he likes and only those things reach Sai. Even blankets are not given to him.”
“…When I took a sweater for him, they rejected it and asked me to give a white sweater! Among magazines EPW and many others were not allowed. Even from my letters pages go missing by the time they reach Sai. My daughter’s letters were not even given to him…”
“…The anda cell doesn’t have a proper roof, so sunlight, rain and cold everything affects him directly. With only one arm functioning and with the immediate need for an operation as directed by the doctor, he is in an alarming state of health…”
 “Sai is suffering from 19 medical problems. He is still taking medicines for Pancreatis. He has stones in his gall bladder. He has hypertension and cardiac problems too, and he is not being given life-saving medicines. He is frequently bleeding and also falling unconscious. With the denial of proper medical care, the state clearly wants to finish him off him in jail itself.  Now, either Justice will win or death will win. Saibaba is walking a tightrope.”
Vasantha further added, “This punishment is not only for Saibaba, it is for all the others, without an iota of evidence. So the fight is against the entire judgement, not just for Saibaba. Such cases have just become a tool to suppress the voice of dissent.”
The state of course claims that the war on adivasis id for “development”. But it is a model of development that is built on the displacement, distress, and death of millions of adivasis. It is in fact a model of corporate loot that aims at crushing the struggle of the tribals for their jal-jangal-jameen so as to extract and export trillions of dollars worth of minerals.
Any voice, like that of Saibaba, who have been vocal against this model of death and destruction in fact have been branded as “anti-development”, as “Maoists”.
Vasantha says, “Where is the development in Gadhchiroli? Just by putting Sai in jail have you done development there? People are dying there. Have you made public hospitals and schools there? Where are your roads? You made roads only for tankers and artillery to move to villages while people still die on the way to school or hospital. The few school building which stand, you have converted them into police posts. People are asking these questions and that is why state is killing everyone and branding them as naxals.”



She urged human rights groups to come together to demand the release of Saibaba and other people who have been incarcerated under false charges.

Nandita Narain, Ex DUTA president , FEDCUTA, said “On the one hand Yogi has forgiven 22000 cases on politicians, even convicted ones have been forgiven and given bail. While on the other hand, those who raise issues of the oppressed in a country where inequality is 2nd highest in the world, they are put behind bars.”
“Even on Chandrashekar Azad there are no charges because you just don’t want Dalit leaders to emerge.” She said, “They can’t kill him like this, he has not been given a death sentence. Hyderabad jail has a nearby government hospital, so he should immediately be shifted there.”
“…In this country people like Sai should be a hero, how many of us can be like him? What will the youth learn from this fiasco? To just be afraid, to mind their own business.” She appealed to all to fight for his release.”
Anil Chamadia, Senior Journalist, said “Chandrashekhar got bail and then NSA was slapped on him. When govt. has decided to gag someone, they won’t let them go. Vasantha’s tale shows how barbaric our state is.
“…The state creates a ruckus on how Indian families like those of jadhav’s are misbehaved with in jails of Pakistan but what about a wife here who is not being allowed to meet her 90% disabled husband languishing in an anda cell”.
Sudha Bharadwaj, Advocate, PUCL: “What is happening to Sai in the Nagpur jail is torture if we go by the Mandela rules recognised by the UN, especially  rules for disabled prisoners. Sentencing and judgement should be debated separately. Given his physical condition,he can’t abscond, he cant move freely, then how can bail be denied? People are arrested in Ballarshah, produced in Aheri, and there is no explanation about where they were  for two days. Evidence is taken arbitrarily, without seal and pamphlets on democratic rights and movements are claimed to be incriminating! Even Amnesty has taken a position on Sai.”
Gautam Navlakha, PUDR, said, “When you brand an organisation as illegal, no matter what your involvement in it is or is not, state will pounce on you. This goes against 3 constituitonal rights: right to assembly, association, right to profess, all in the name of security. They know they cant torture people like Sai, but they want to make an example. They criminalise the organsiation and all attached. Thereby rules of evidence can be overlooked by state machinery. Police don’t even have to look for proof. Suspicion is enough in case of sedition. Jharkhand has even criminalised labour unions to such n extent that people can be jailed and punished. How do you know prove one’s membership?  The possession of a pamphlet? But reading or distributing literature is legal, only inciting violence is not. The families of the many adivasis languishing in jail can’t even afford a mulaqat in the Nagpur jail as it would cost them a lot to travel till nagpur. The rights and release of Political prisoners have to be fought for in a concerted manner as it amounts to a punishment for entire communities.”
Biswajit Mohanty, Faculty, DU, “We need to fight against all undemocratic tendencies. We must converse with new forces unleashed. Even religious freedom is being denied to people, let us form alliances with them. Sai stood with the struggling masses and hence is being prosecuted..”
Sanjay Kak, Documentary Film-maker, said “We must remember that Bastar has faded from our memory, when just 5 years ago Green Hunt was in mainstream discourse, thanks to people like Saibaba. We are up against so much. But we have seen impossible goals through.  Let’s keep talking about what Saibaba spoke of.”
Nandita and Vasantha spoke about how a delegation met Home Minister in July 2017 wherein they demanded Saibaba’s bail on health grounds. Both of them reiterated the demand to immediately shift him to Hyderabad as the Nagpur hospital is not equipped enough to treat Saibaba’s ailments and the to and fro repeatedly from jail to hospital is bad for him too. Vasantha also spoke  of the endless adjournments demanded by prosecution to prolong the incarceration of Saibaba for which she had handed over a letter to the Parliament Standing Committee in November 2017.


The case against Saibaba

The  case began in 2013, with a police raid at Saibaba’s Delhi University quarters. The police alleged he was “an urban contact” for the Maoists and that he was named by Hem Mishra, then a Jawaharlal Nehru University student who was arrested in Gadchiroli.

He was first arrested in May 2014. In late June 2015, the Bombay High Court granted him bail on medical grounds, and he was released in July 2015. He went back to jail in December 2017 and was released again in April 2016, after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

Saibaba had extensively campaigned against the Salwa Judum militia and the human rights violations that accompanied Operation Green Hunt against Maoists launched under the United Progressive Alliance government.Saibaba used to actively raise the issue of Adivasis and their rights to live in forests. He also advocated against Operation Green Hunt at international platforms.

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Prof G N Saibaba pens a poem after meeting his mother in Jail

                                                                              माँ, मेरे लिए मत रोना

जब तुम मुझे देखने आयी

तुम्हारा चेहरा मैं नहीं देख सका था

फाइबर कांच की खिड़की से

मेरी अशक्त देह की झलक यदि मिली होगी तुम्हें

यक़ीन हो गया होगा

कि मैं जीवित हूँ अब भी।

माँ, घर में मेरी गैर मौजूदगी पर मत रोना

जब मैं घर और दुनिया में था,

कई दोस्त थे मेरे

जब मैं इस कारागार के अण्डा सेल में बंदी हूँ

पूरी दुनिया से 

और अधिक मित्र मिले मुझे।

माँ, मेरे गिरते स्वास्थ्य के लिए उदास मत होना

बचपन में जब तुम

एक गिलास दूध नहीं दे पाती थी मुझे,

साहस और मजबूती शब्द पिलाती थीं तुम

दुख और तकलीफ के इस समय में

तुम्हारे पिलाये गये शब्दों से

मैं अब भी मजबूत हूँ।

माँ, अपनी उम्मीद मत छोड़ना

मैंने अहसास किया है 

कि जेल मृत्यु नहीं है

ये मेरा पुनर्जन्म है

और मैं घर में

तुम्हारी उस गोद में लौटूंगा

जिसने उम्मीद और हौसले से मुझे पोषा है।

माँ, मेरी आजादी के लिए मत डरना

दुनिया को बता दो

मेरी आजादी खो गयी है

क्या उन सभी जन के लिए आजादी पायी जा सकती है

जो मेरे साथ खड़े हैं

धरती के दुख का कारण लाओ

जिसमें मेरी आजादी निहित है।

-जी एन साईबाबा

जेल में माँ से मुलाकात के बाद

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Kobad Ghandy’s re-arrest after release is misuse of judicial process

Deliberate delays by police lead to prolonged prison sentences without conviction.


On September 20, 2009, when Kobad Ghandy was arrested from New Delhi, the Andhra Pradesh Special Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) and Delhi Police Special Branch, who had affected the arrest, claimed that they had dealt a major blow to the Maoist movement.

They claimed that they had caught hold of a top leader of the CPI(Maoist), who had been personally involved in the planning and execution of a number of violent operations in various parts of the country.

After over eight years of court proceedings, when Ghandy finally stepped out of Visakhapatnam prison on December 12, 2017, it was clear that the police had made baseless claims against him. Not only was he cleared of terror charges in all the cases where trials had been completed, there were no less than seven cases where he had been implicated, but the police had failed to even present a chargesheet, despite investigating the charges for eight long years.

Apart from this, there were three cases which figured among the random cases listed sometime after his arrest, but the concerned police station had not even bothered to produce him in court in any of them. It has thus quite conclusively been proved in court that there is no reasonable basis for keeping Ghandy behind bars.


Re-arrest after deliberate delay

Police forces are not really known to be reasonable. In a show of arbitrary authority, just over three days after his release, a 50-member posse of the Jharkhand police picked up Ghandy from the premises of a court in Telangana, where he had gone to attend the hearing in one of the seven cases pending against him. As pointed out in a press notefrom Ghandy, he had written twice from jail to the concerned Jharkhand court wanting to be produced before it, but the police didn’t show any interest. They deliberately waited for his release so that they could re-arrest him and thus extend his incarceration.

This deliberate prolonging of Ghandy’s imprisonment, despite orders of release from the judiciary, is rampant throughout the country, particularly for political prisoners. Since political prisoners are often targeted merely over speaking up against those in power, the evidence against them is weak and even fabricated and they are very often acquitted or manage to get bail. The arresting authorities then, in an abuse of due process, misuse the legal procedure just to ensure that the political prisoner remains in prison for several years despite not being proved guilty of anything.


SC ruling against non-disclosure of pending cases

In the 1981 Uday Chand versus Sheikh Mohd Abdullah case, the Supreme Court ruled against the deliberately concealing of certain offences from the accused as well as the court, only to be used as soon as the prisoner is released from jail. However, the practice continues unabated.

It is common to see police personnel waiting outside prison gates when certain people are scheduled to be released and picking them up as soon as they step out. This is also seen in other countries such as the US, where it has come to be called “Gate-ing” – confront someone at the gate with new charges.

Anticipatory bail not available under UAPA

The harsh provisions of terror laws facilitate the use of such tactics against political prisoners. Many political prisoners are booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), which has particularly stringent provisions for bail. Since section 43-D(4) of the UAPA does not allow the provisions of anticipatory bail to be applied to offences under the Act, the prisoner can do nothing when a police authority deliberately delays arrest. In other cases, a possible remedy is to apply for anticipatory bail under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). But this too is not available for political prisoners.

Thus Ghandy, despite being well-aware of the intentional postponement of his arrest in some random cases, was helpless when his applications for production in those cases were ignored by police authorities. Since the cases had been registered under UAPA he could not even move the courts for anticipatory bail.


A state of semi-freedom

Ghandy was conscious of this Damocles sword hanging over his head and referred to it in an interview to the press, two days after his release. Despite the judiciary having seen fit to set him free and despite being out of prison, he rightly called his situation a state of semi-freedom. He knew that whatever be the ruling of the judiciary, he could not be free until the police decide so. The Jharkhand police soon proved him right.

These columns have earlier too dealt with the issue of re-arrest. That was in the context of another political prisoner, Gajala Gopanna, who was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police four hours after his release after seven-and-half-years in jail. That happened more than three years ago, on September 30, 2014. Gopanna has been lingering in prison for about 11 years now without a single conviction. An aged and ailing Ghandy will definitely be hoping that his wait is not that long.

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90% disabled, Ex-DU prof Dr G N Saibaba wants to be shifted out of Nagpur central jail

Serving life sentence for links with Maoists, GN Saibaba writes to governor; says he is unable to cope with conditions there

Unable to cope with the adverse conditions, including the biting cold, in Nagpur central jail, former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, who is serving life sentence for links with the Maoists, has written to the Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao for a transfer.

The deputy inspector general of prisons, (Nagpur), Yogesh Desai, confirmed that Saibaba had applied for transfer and that the file was with the government. Jail sources said that he wanted to be shifted to either Delhi or Hyderabad.

Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district on March 7 this year. The court had also found four others guilty of waging war against the country and supporting the ideology of the banned organisation – CPI (Maoist). Gadchiroli Sessions Judge Suryakant Shinde sentenced Saibaba and four others – JNU student Hem Mishra, former journalist Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirke and Pandu Narote – to life, while the sixth accused Vijay Tirke was sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

Saibaba, who is wheel-chair-bound with 90 per cent disability, was picked up from his Delhi residence in 2013 after Mishra and two others were caught with some letters and a memory card which, according to police, contained incriminating documents about CPI (Maoist). A raid was also conducted at Saibaba’s house and more such incriminating material found, according to police.

The Maharashtra Police arrested Saibaba in May 2014 on charges of links with Maoists.

According to the prosecution, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki and Pandu Narote had taken Rs 5 lakh from a top Maoist commander Narmada Akka from the jungles of Gadchiroli. That money was allegedly to be delivered to Saibaba in Delhi for spreading the Maoist ideology in urban areas. Public prosecutor had presented 23 witnesses and 41 articles, including about 3 TB of data contained in hard disks recovered from Saibaba’s residence, in the court.

In October, the former DU professor in a letter to his wife Vasantha said he was frightened to think of the coming winter in the jail. “I am already shivering with fever. I don’t have a blanket, sweater or jacket. As the temperature goes down, I feel excruciating pain in my legs and left hand. It is impossible for me to survive the winter that starts from November,” he said in the letter.

In the letter Saibaba urged his wife to finalise his legal counsel and file for bail application at the earliest, warning that if this was not done, the situation would go out of hand.

GN Saibaba

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India – A great betrayal State impunity continues for acts of torture

 Lawmakers and court have not stepped up to their duty

Written by UPENDRA BAXI |

torture bill, Un torture convention, torture law, Supreme court, Rajya Sabha, acts of torture, India news, Indian express newsOverall, the problem becomes one of understanding and explaining the reluctance of the SC in expressing its constitutional anxiety concerning the standalone torture legislation. (Express photo)

February 19, 2016 was an unusual day in the world history of torture when Ashwani Kumar, a senior advocate and former Union minister of law, filed a petition before the Supreme Court of India to ensure a standalone law compliant with the UN Torture Convention. The Rajya Sabha Committee’s unanimous report (December 10, 2012) virtually rewrote the Torture Bill passed by the Lok Sabha on December 6, 2010. On July 8, the Union sought the advice of the Law Commission of India with specific reference to the pending constitutional litigation. It responded (October 30, 2017) with a torture bill of 2017, which mostly followed the Rajya Sabha Standing Committee and the UN Convention. The SC was expected to perform its nudge function, exercising its demosprudential adjudicatory leadership, as it has done frequently.

But this year on November 26 (otherwise the day on which the Constitution came into force), the SC dismissed the petition. Relying on judicial observations as widely reported in the media, the court mentioned three related grounds. First, Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked: “How can we compel the government to make a law? Can we ask the government to ratify a treaty by way of a mandamus?” Second, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said “the government has to take a political decision on whether it should ratify the treaty”. Third, when Ashwani Kumar maintained that it was the duty of the court to fill the gaps in written law, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar observed: “But it is a policy matter”.

The learned chief justice was correct in the abstract but disappointing in the context; the petitioner did not ever ask for a mandamus in the first place because it would violate the supremacy of Parliament in its own legislative domain. The prayers before the Court did not ask for enforcing a treaty by a court order. The question of compelling the legislature to make a law also never arose. The suggestive jurisprudence of the SC is as old as the court itself and the petitioner painstakingly demonstrated this. The SC has used this power on many subjects concerning, for example, participative decision-making, forest rights, right to information, ragging on campus, right to education, judicial services, inter-country adoptions, consumer jurisprudence, sustainable development law, and privacy rights. The SC remains open to nudge a slow moving legislature into quick action.

This nudging role becomes most crucial for effectively preventing and punishing the rampant torture practices in policing and security operations. The SC is no stranger to such requests for advancing constitutional civilisation. It has already steadily converted adjudication into the site of demosprudence and issued several directions desiring an abatement of this practice. The writ assumed importance because nearly two decades after India signed the Torture Convention, the Indian state practice has been, to say the least, lackadaisical.

Justice Chandrachud was also broadly justified in saying that treaty ratification was a matter of political choice. True, all governance is a matter of political choice, but political choices must remain subject to some constitutional discipline, lest a set of governance dispositions renders citizens into mere rightless subjects. And if the anti-torture norms have become part of customary international law binding on all states, does not the constitutional concern require the Indian state to follow it? The 273rd Report of the Law Commission has now clearly stated that anti-torture norms are jus cogens, or peremptory norms of international law, which do not depend on state consent.

Equally legitimate is Justice Khanwilkar’s concern about “political matter” but the SC in its demosprudential leadership of the nation has not abstained from making new policies. In fact, it has done so in custodial deaths and encounter killings; so also, it has evolved a compensation policy for violation of fundamental rights.

Overall, the problem becomes one of understanding and explaining the reluctance of the SC in expressing its constitutional anxiety concerning the standalone torture legislation. It is unworthy to suggest that the recent Law Day spat between the executive and judiciary animated summary dismissal. Yet such a disposal — after nearly one and half years, and involving the Law Commission — that relegates the matter to the legislature for ill-stated reasons raises concerns about a just constitutional response.

The petition disturbingly demonstrates the penchant of state inaction although from 2007 onwards India has committed to taking steps to ratify the torture convention. Despite this, no steps have been taken to enact a suitable enabling law required for accessing the UN convention, which is what the Rajya Sabha Standing Committee did after hearing all concerned parties. In preparing a bill, consented to by all political parties, the committee functions as a mini-Parliament and its draft bill should have been enacted.

Custodial torture, and even custodial death in India is a norm rather than exception. It flies in the face of substantive due process now enshrined as an aspect of the basic structure of the Constitution. Very recently, the SC issued directions about extra-judicial killings in Manipur. Many states especially urged India (in the Universal Periodic Review, 2012) to “finalise” accession to the UN Torture Convention, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. Neither “internal political compulsions” and “weaknesses in the implementation” may produce legitimate law. If, as the SC has recognised, “even while dealing with the ‘enemy’ the rule of law would apply” and “police or the armed forces who have committed the excesses which do not have a reasonable connection with the performance of their official duty would be liable”, should the norm for dealing with co-citizens be any different?

How does it happen that custodial deaths, custodial and interrogational torture are rarely prosecuted? Why do state apparatuses continue to tolerate such abuse against human dignity and rights when a code of law reform and a speedy ratification of the UN Torture Convention remain available? State impunity for acts of torture must surely find a dignified funeral at least after seven decades of India’s independence.

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Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy arrested again- ‘Govt responsible if I die’

The top leader of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist is facing trial in several cases.

Days after he was released from the Visakhapatnam Central Prison in Andhra Pradesh, Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy was arrested by the Jharkhand police in Achampet in Telangana’s Nagarkurnool district on Saturday.

According to reports, Ghandy was at an Achampet court for a hearing on an old case, following which he planned to travel to Mumbai.

DC reported that the case which was pending since 2010, and pertained to an attack on the Amrabad police station, where Ghandy was charged with possessing explosives to help the Maoists.

A soon as Ghandy came out of the Achampet court, a police team from Jharkhand was waiting outside and whisked him away. It was also reported that the team was accompanied by officials from the Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence Bureau (APSIB).

Activists protested after the Jharkand police allegedly flew him to Ranchi without producing him in a Hyderabad court, citing paucity of time.

The Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) has also condemned the arrest of Kobad, terming it as “illegal detention.”

‘Undemocratic methods’

Soon after his arrest, a hand written press note, purportedly written by Ghandy began doing the rounds on social media.

“After being acquitted in all cases and spending eight years and three months in jail, when I, Kobad Ghandy was finally released from jail, I was re-arrested by the Jharkhand Police just three days after release. On Dec 16, 2017, I was attending the Achempet Court (near Hyderabad), the Jharkhand, accompanied by the APSIB arrested me and took me by flight to Ranchi,” the letter read.

“I am 71 years old and have serious health ailments. Immediately after release, I had a check-up at the Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, which recommended at least one month’s complete rest. It is clear the police methods are being used to kill legally, given I am 71 years old and in very poor health. Since seven years, they did not bother about this case, but in order to keep me in jail as an undertrial indefinitely, they arrested me immediately on release,” he added.

In conclusion, the letter signed by Ghandy says, “If anything serious happens to my health in jail with this arrest, I will hold the government responsible. Given that I have been acquitted in all cases, that most have been acquitted in this case, and my age and health condition, demand my immediate release.”


The top leader of outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, who was facing trial in several cases including murder and sabotage, was granted bail by courts in five cases.

Ghandy was brought to the jail in Visakhapatnam in April this year in connection with eight cases but was acquitted in three of them.

Arrested in Delhi in 2009 when he was trying to set up a network in the national capital, Ghandy was charged under the Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code.

He was initially lodged in Cherlapally central jail in Hyderabad for three months in connection with the assassination of former Congress legislator C. Narsi Reddy in August 2005.

Ghandy was also facing trial in the murder of former Andhra Pradesh Assembly speaker D. Sripada Rao in 1999 and for a conspiracy to kill the personnel of anti-Maoist force Greyhounds and police in Gunurkayi village of Visakhapatnam district in 2008.

According to police, the former member of the Central Committee of Maoist outfit was allegedly operating with several alias including Azad, Aravind, Kamal and Saleem and had links with revolutionary groups in various countries including Philippines, Peru and Nepal.

In 2015, the ailing Maoist leader went on a hunger strike in Tihar Jail to protest his repeated transfer in jail wards.

He was acquitted by Delhi’s Patiala House Court last year but he remained in prison due to other cases pending against him.

Ghandy, who studied in prestigious Doon School in Dehradun and Elphinstone College, Mumbai, was reportedly elected to the Maoist Politburo in 2007 and went underground after the merger of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India in 2004.


IANS inputs


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