Within a period of five days, three attempts to attack Professor GN Saibaba were made inside his college campus in New Delhi — allegedly by ‘the members and goons of the right-wing affiliated students union’.

The third attempt was made on the wheel-chair bound professor of English on Monday, but Saibaba wasn’t hurt as staff members and students of Ram Lal Anand (RLA) College, affiliated to the Delhi University, protected him by making a human chain around him. In a three-hour scuffle inside the college campus, some of the students in their bid to protect the professor also got hurt.

The first attempt to attack Saibaba was made on 21 April on the occasion of the governing body meeting of the college; the next was on the annual day celebration of the college on 22 April.

According to the college staff members, students and staff association, the ruckus inside the college and the attempts to attack on the professor was allegedly made by members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

Outsiders attack professor and students protecting him

The wheel-chair bound professor, Saibaba, who suffers from almost 90 percent disability told Firstpost,  “It’s the third attempt on me. In the last five days, attempts were made thrice to physically attack me inside the college campus. The earlier two attempts were made on 21 and 22 April. The police had been called, but they stood like bystanders and no attempt was made to stop the outsider group.”

He said, “Third attempt was made on 25 April when I went to college to submit my application regarding revocation of my suspension. Suddenly, a group of students barged into the staff room and tried to physically attack me. Due to the students and my colleagues I remained unharmed. The outsiders even attacked my students, who supported and tried to protect me.”

“Though I couldn’t recognize the members of the group who came to attack me, except the one – the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) joint secretary Chhattrapal Yadav, who the led the group. As I’m on a bail from the Supreme Court and the case is going on, I applied for the revocation of my suspension order and this outsider group demanded otherwise,” added the professor.

Both the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and the Staff Association of RLA College have appealed the governing body of the college to revoke Saibaba’s suspension order.

Why Saibaba was attacked

The group that barged inside the college campus raised slogans against Saibaba such as, “Deshdrohi wapas jao (Go back traitor)” “Don’t allow Naxal in the campus”, etc. According to the eye-witness, the students group that barged into the campus had a strong objection to the application given by Saibaba for revocation of his suspension.

GN Saibaba

GN Saibaba

“The three attempts on him were made to give a message to the governing body that he shouldn’t be reinstated. The goons and members of the right-wing affiliated ABVP demanded that the person (read Saibaba) who’s a face of the Maoists and strongly supports Naxalism shouldn’t be allowed to teach students,” final-year student of RLA College said.

“Today when Prof Saibaba came to submit his application, the ABVP members of DUSU tried to attack him physically. They raised slogans against him. There were around 50 students who forcefully entered the staff room and gheraoed the professor. Even on 22 April on College annual day, they heckled Saibaba. DUTA and our staff association have taken it up with the governing body,” said Rajiv Kumar, media in-charge, RLA College.

Saibaba was arrested by the Maharashtra police for alleged Maoist links in 2014. After the arrest, he was suspended from college. It was on the afternoon of 9 May, 2014 when Saibaba was heading back home from the university, a group of policemen in plainclothes stopped his car, dragged the driver out and drove him out of the university campus. The next morning after his arrest from Delhi, he was flown to Nagpur, where the District Magistrate heard his case and sent him to prison. He spent 14 months in jail before the Mumbai High Court granted him bail for six months in July last year for his deteriorating health condition. He had to surrender and again go back to jail in December. He was recently granted bail by the Supreme Court and the RLA College’s governing body constituted a one-member committee to revoke his suspension and reinstate him.

Resolution passed

The staff association of RLA College has passed two resolutions in this context.

“Two resolutions were passed on Monday evening. First, we’ve strongly condemned the failure of the college principal and the administration to stop goons from entering the college campus and create havoc. The administration of the college has collapsed. The manner in which Prof Saibaba was attacked thrice has made students and staff members insecure. Second resolution has been passed to set a time limit to the one-member committee. We want the committee to submit its report on revocation of suspension within a stipulated time frame,” said RLA College staff association’s secretary, Dr Rakesh Kumar.

“Irrespective of any political affiliation or ideology, creating ruckus inside the campus of an educational institution is completely unwarranted and unacceptable. It shows total degradation of college administration. The role of police is also questionable on why it didn’t act,” he added.

Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Students’ Front has strongly condemned the continued harassment of Saibaba. DUSU joint secretary, Chhatarpal Yadav with other ABVP goons in huge police presence tried to terrorize the Prof Saibaba. This whole incident happened in front of college principal, chairman and the police, but no one came to his defense and it was the college students who formed a human chain around him to protect him from ABVP goons. No strict action was taken by college administration, and we strongly condemn this insensitive attitude of the college authorities,” the Students’ Front said.

What the ABVP says

The ABVP has denied any kind of involvement in the alleged attack on Saibaba.

“It’s a known fact that Saibaba has Maoist links and is a face of Naxals. The Maharashtra ATS on the basis of evidences arrested him and was sent to jail. But, ABVP has nothing to do with it. The matter is subjudice and the law will take its course. It’s always easy to level charges and put blames, but none of our members were involved in the attack inside RLA College campus,” national spokesperson and media in-charge of ABVP, Shreerang Kulkarni told Firstpost.