The India of today is like a plane that is moving in reverse and is headed towards a crash, Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy said in Delhi on Wednesday, according to PTI.

She made the remark at the launch of Why do you fear my way so much? – a collection of poems and letters by jailed activist GN Saibaba.

Saibaba, a former English professor at the Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his alleged connections with Maoists in 2017. He has been lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail since then.

Roy said that she recently asked a pilot friend of hers whether he could fly a plane backwards. “He laughed out loud,” she said. “I said ‘this is exactly what is happening here’. The leaders of this country are flying the plane in reverse, everything is falling, and we are headed for a crash.”

India is a land of “sophisticated jurisprudence”, but laws are applied differently depending on one’s caste, class and gender, the author said.

“We are meeting to talk about a professor [GN Saibaba] who is paralysed 90% and has been in jail for seven years,” she said, according to PTI. “...That is enough to tell you what kind of country we are living in. What shame is this!”

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja, who released the book, demanded that Saibaba should be immediately released.

“The government of the day thinks by labelling some people as ‘urban Maoists, ‘urban Naxalites, ‘anti-nationals’, ‘terrorists’ or putting them in prison or torturing them in prison, they can succeed,” he said. “I warn them they can never succeed.”