From A World To Win News Service
India: Outrageous Life Sentence Against Revolutionary GN Saibaba
March 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
March 14, 2017. A World to Win News Service. The dedicated revolutionary activist and Delhi University academic G. N. Saibaba and five others charged with “criminal conspiracy and waging war against the nation” have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in the Indian state of Maharashtra. In his 7 March statement, the judge even went so far as to state, “though he [Saibaba] is physically handicapped, he is mentally fit” and that “imprisonment for life is not a sufficient punishment to the accused.”
Saibaba was the joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front and convener of the Forum against the War on the People, which resolutely opposed the Indian government’s counterinsurgency campaign called Operation Greenhunt that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Adivasi (tribal people). He also organized fact-finding missions to look into state violence in rural areas.
No stranger to the dungeons of India, this is the third time Saibaba has been jailed for his courageous exposure of Indian state violence against the country’s poor and for his alleged links with the Communist Party of India (Maoist). During past imprisonment, he was refused any assistance needed due to his being paralyzed from the waist down, and denied required medications. Fourteen months of that time was spent in isolation, with all this contributing to his serious physical deterioration.
Many rights organizations and intellectuals waged major protests against his incarceration, considering it an attempt to intimidate free speech and free association. Among them was well-known writer Arundhati Roy, who pointed out that with “evidence” of the kind the state presented against Saibaba, the Indian government could arrest anyone they want and hold them indefinitely—which has happened to many activists who have been charged not for their actions but their alleged associations. Roy herself was then charged with contempt of court for a lacerating exposure of the court’s hypocritical rulings.
As the evidence against Saibaba was meager indeed, the Indian Supreme Court released him in 2015 and again in 2016 on medical grounds, claiming the lower court had been unfairly harassing him. He had been repeatedly interrogated and his home ransacked on several occasions, and he was fired from his university position. However, the Indian government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems hell-bent on silencing him and putting others like him on notice that this could happen to them as well.
Saibaba’s lawyer and wife are calling on people to oppose this outrageous sentence and fight for his release and are appealing the verdict to the next highest court.
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