Being Dissent “Positive”, Kills

The largest pseudo democratic country’s government fears ‘Dissenters’ and it attempts to kill them by jailing them inside overcrowded prisons during covid-19 pandemic…
_ Rejaz M Sydeek

29th May 2020 was observed as the Protest Day for demanding the immediate release of Poet Varavara Rao , Professor GN Saibaba and other political prisoners by Intellectuals,Activists,students and other common people from all over the India. Campaigners including Varavara Rao’s family members protested by holding placards, posters ,chart papers,digital images at homes, public places, streets demanding to free the prisoners.

The campaign was organised by ‘Forum against Repression’ Telangana after Varavara Rao’s health condition seriously deteriorated. An under-trial prisoner’s death due to Covid-19 at Taloja Jail Maharashtra where Rao is lodged escalated the fears of his well-wishers. The forum also demanded Telangana Government to withdraw all the fabricated cases charged against the activists . Rao’s family had moved to court for his bail citing his age and ailments. but the petition got postponed to June 2 due to negligence of jail authorities after they failed to submit his medical certificate in court. Family members had also requested the State government to release him on temporary bail.

Prof. G N Saibaba who is serving life sentence was denied parole for visiting his mother suffering from cancer. If they are not released on medical grounds now , the threat from covid-19 will be inevitable for them. Both Saibaba’s and Rao’s family have blamed the Central Government. State Government and Judicial institutions for neglecting their poor health condition and for violating human rights. They have accused the jail authorities for not providing proper basic healthcare and proper facilities to both of them. Through letters and phone calls both Saibaba and Varavara Rao have exposed the inhumane conditions of the jail. Health of our democracy is deteriorating as well as of our people who tries to uphold the democracy and constitutional values.

Unfortunately yesterday Varavara Rao’s family members who are settled at Hyderabad were informed just after the protest on May 29’th that he was hospitalized at JJ Hospital on the evening of May 28 after he fainted. The family received a phone call from the local police station informing about his hospitalization after Maharashtra police passed the message to the former.

Varavara Rao who is a revolutionary poet, writer, intellectual, critic and an activist was arrested at Hyderabad on 28 August 2018 in an alleged conspiracy case to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in connection with Elgar Parishad – Bhima Koregoan case. He will be an Octogenarian on coming month of November if state shows some mercy on him . Currently the Bhima Koregoan case is investigated by National Investigation Agency (NIA) after the case was transferred to them from Maharashtra Police by BJP government.  Activists Sudha Bhardwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling all accused in the Bhima Koregoan Case are languishing in the jail since 2018 under the inhumane UAPA act. Yesterday 58 year old Sudha Bhardwaj’s bail application which was filed on medical grounds in view of Covid-19 was rejected by Mumbai court. Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha and Dalit Activist and Intellectual Anand Teltumbde were jailed last month on the same case. Government and investigating teams accuse all of them as members of CPI Maoist,  for inciting violence during Bhima Koregoan’s annual celebration event, conspiring to destabilize state, conspiring to assassinate Narendra Modi.

About 821 Kilometres away from the Taloja jail where Varavara Rao is lodged is Nagpur Central Jail, Maharashtra . There we have 53 year old Professor G N Saibaba who is wheelchair bound handicap with 90% disability and with 18+ types of ailments . He was convicted on March 2017 after being arrested on May 9 2014 by a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district for alleged links with CPI Maoist Party and for waging war against the country. The court jailed Saibaba and others guilty under UAPA act and lodged him at Nagpur Jail.

Last year United Nations Special Rapporteurs has pointed out that Saibaba requires immediate medical attention and he’s at a life threatening stage. Earlier Vasantha Kumari, GN Saibaba’s wife had alleged that even Hindutva Leader Pragya Singh Thakur, a terror accused was granted bail on medical grounds but  Saibaba who also got a cyst in brain due to which he keeps getting unconscious’s was not granted bail .  Saibaba who is a strong critic against Operation Green hunt and Salwa Judum can’t do daily tasks without a help and prison authorities have not arranged him with assistants to help. He depends on other adivasi co-convicts for helping him to have food and for going to the toilet but unfortunately there is no wheelchair-friendly toilet available at the jail .

Both 79 year old Varavara Rao and 53 year old GN Saibaba represents a huge number of political prisoners awaiting for their release from state sponsored hell during this lockdown for saving their lives. Data’s says over 17,000 prisoners have been released in Maharashtra in wake of Covid-19 Pandemic but this inhumane state violates the right to life of Political Prisoners. Even World Health Organisation (WHO), Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other national medical bodies have warned that aged people and those with pre medical history are more prone to this virus, but this Hindutva state consciously violates these warnings.

Article 21 of the Constitution upholds “the right to life ” but the people representatives who takes oath on the same constitution violates it case of the dissenters .Do these aged Activists pose a real threat to the society if they are bailed out ? The State doesn’t even spare woman political prisoners, Anti NRC- CAA protester Safoora Zargar who is pregnant is still in jail. Sudha Bhardwaj’s bail was rejected even though her jail inmate was tested positive for Covid-19. Perhaps the Government must have forgotten that even prisoners got the right to life and jails are for reforms, not for punishing. Even if anyone protests against the state’s Hindutva policies democratically they will be thrown into the solitary anda cell, while Hindutva terrorists who incites violence against minorities can freely roam around with security provided by government.

Hindutva government are busy filling jails with intellectuals, students, journalists, lawyers, activists even during this outbreak. Before they kills these torchbearers of revolution inside the jail, all Democrats, Socialists, Communists, Human Rights Activists, students, common people should protest and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners from jail. The incarcerated voices of dissent should not be left to rot in Hindutva Prisons.

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