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 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.