We stand in complete solidarity with Prof. Saibaba and demand immediate provision of all the necessary items as well as requisite medical assistance to him so that his life as a political prisoner is not threatened…
_ Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners- West Bengal
Press Release, 21.10.2020
In 1922 a bengali freedom fighter Satindranath Sen started a hunger strike movement in the Barisal prison of the erstwhile undivided Bengal in protest against the oppression of the British jailor. He demanded that the political prisoners had to be treated separately from the ordinary prisoners. Satindranath’s 61 day long hunger strike was the first historic movement in the colonial India which demanded the status of political prisoners. In 1929 Jatindranath Das also started a hunger strike in the Lahore Central Jail with the same demand. His heroic strike ended in 13th September, 1929 when he breathed his last after 63 days of fasting.
But history repeats itself and we see this when even after 73years of independence, political prisoners like Prof. G.N. Saibaba has had to go for the same hunger strike to protest against the ill-treatment of the Nagpur Jail authority. According to his family and the Committee set up for his defence & release, Saibaba is being denied of the books & letters sent regularly by his family. Citing Covid-19 outbreak he is also being denied of regular newspapers and phone calls to either his family or the lawyer. Not only that, his family complained that the Jail authority has not even provided the medical assistance prescribed by his doctor. At the same time even after repeated request, Saibaba, who is a 90 percent disabled wheelchair-bound person, has not been provided with a permanent trained helper equipped to deal with his medical needs as prescribed by the doctors at the Government medical college, Nagpur.
On the other hand, Revolutionary poet Vara Vara Rao, who is at his 80s and is severely ill, has fallen prey to the continuous negligence of the Taloja Jail & hospital authority. His family has complained that V.V. has been denied of necessary medical tests. Due to his critical condition he is presently kept on urinary catheterization. But his family complained that since his urinary bag has not been changed for long, he has got infected. Also because of the continuous neglect of his neurological problems, he is totally in an incoherent state and talked about the deadbody of his wife kept in the morgue when she is very much alive.
We think these incidents cannot be seen simply as negligence, but are a part of the cruel & vindictive attitude of the Indian state towards its political prisoners which can only have resemblance to our colonial past. It is utterly shameful that even after the India government being a signatory of the international Mandela Rules, the jail authorities regularly flout the basic rights of the political prisoners of our country. So quite obviously political prisoners like Saibaba has to take resort to a hunger strike to fight the oppressive rules of the present day Indian state. We see his fight for the dignity of the political prisoners as the ones which follows the legacy of our beloved freedom fighters. So we stand in complete solidarity with Prof. Saibaba and demand immediate provision of all the necessary items as well as requisite medical assistance to him so that his life as a political prisoner is not threatened.