Disabled Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, lodged in the Nagpur Central Prison since his conviction in 2017 in a naxal case, has resolved to go on a hunger strike from October 21, his wife has said, claiming harassment by jail authorities by denying him letters from family, medicines and books.
In a letter to the jail superintendent, the professor’s wife Vasantha Kumari has said that letters from family members are being stopped and held by jail authorities for a long time.
Newspaper purchase by him had been stopped in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter said. Moreover, newspaper clippings and printouts sent by post too are not being given to him, it added.
“Sometimes, all the medicines given by his advocates are not being given to him. He has multiple health problems and needs to take prescribed medicines every day to save his life. This can endanger his already fragile health,” it read.
Kumari has said that Saibaba has decided to go on a hunger strike until his demands are met -of books supplied to him by his family and advocates be given without much delay. These books, her letter stated, are in English and contain poetry. Some are novels, which are available in the open market and not banned. Some books have not been given to him and are rotting in the godowns of the prison, it said.
The hunger strike will put his life in danger, given the pandemic and his health condition. It requested the superintendent to give him basic rights as a prisoner and provide him with books and medicine.
The Committee for the Defense and Release of Dr GN Saibaba, in a press statement, called the withholding of medicines ‘extremely concerning’ and appealed to the Nagpur Central Jail authorities to intervene, ensure the professor's basic rights are upheld and prevent him from going on the hunger strike.
The superintendent of Nagpur Central Prison Anup Kumar Kumre denied the allegations and said all letters, books and medicines are being given to him and nothing is being confiscated by them. Books, he said are not given all at once, but one by one. In view of the pandemic, the jail is taking more precautions than usual and as a policy no newspapers are provided in jail to anyone during this period, he said.