VIJETHA S. N
Delhi University professor G. N. Saibaba, who was arrested by the Maharashtra police for alleged Maoist links and taken to the State, will go on a hunger strike from Thursday if conditions of his confinement do not improve.
This was announced by his family, colleagues and social activists at a press conference here on Wednesday.
“When his brother visited him on Monday, he heard that they were keeping him in an unsanitary, solitary cell without any helpers and convenient toilet facilities. His medicines, also prescribed and provided by the police doctor, were being denied to him. He is 90 per cent disabled, he was inflicted with polio when he was five, and is a wheelchair user and cannot move properly without assistance. He is also a heart patient, suffers from high blood pressure and has chronic and severe pain in his lower back,” said his wife Vasantha.
She added that Dr. Saibaba, who comes from a poor family, was the sole bread-winner of his family and they were now apprehensive that the university would suspend him and cut off their income.
“They have been trying to evict us for a long time. In the middle of summer last year, the vice-chancellor, who talks about globalising the university and bringing in world-class facilities and standards, got our electricity and water supply cut. The police have twice questioned us in our own house. When they came for the search last time, there was one man in police uniform and there were some others in plain-clothes who just pushed their way into our house,” she said. Many among those present questioned Delhi University’s silence on the matter, when the professor was allowed to be “abducted”, and the manner in which the authorities had sought his eviction last year. They said dissenting voices were sought to be crushed.
Documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak said: “He was someone who brought voices from the other end to city dwellers like us. I first met him when he was organising a protest against Operation Greenhunt.”
Sumit Chakravarti, an activist who was present along with representatives of the Delhi University Students’ Union, said: “He even spoke up against the new four-year undergraduate programme. The government has brought about a new law regarding the manner in which the disabled people should be treated, but here it is violating every thing about it.”
University teacher Karen Gabrielle said: “The Delhi University Community against Police Repression stands in solidarity with Dr. Saibaba and his family and opposes the systematic targeting of democratic voices by the police force.”
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