Former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, who is serving a life term in a Nagpur prison, has threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike in protest against jail authorities installing a CCTV camera, which allegedly captures the toilet and bathing area inside his cell, The Indian Express reported on Saturday, citing his family.
Saibaba was sentenced to life in prison for having Maoist links in March 2017 and has since been in the Nagpur Central Jail. He suffers from over 90% physical disabilities and is wheelchair-bound.
In a letter to the Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, Saibaba’s family urged the government to remove the CCTV camera and provide treatment for his health-related ailments.
“On Tuesday [10.05.2022], the jail authorities fixed a wide-angle CCTV camera in front of his anda cell that can capture video of the entire cell including, toilet seat, bathing place, and everything in the small cell,” Saibaba’s wife Vasantha Kumari and brother G Ramadevudu wrote in the letter, according to The Indian Express.
They added that Saibaba was unable to use the toilet or take a bath as the camera functions and records everything at all hours.
“This is clearly to intimidate and insult him,” the family wrote. “This is a means to violate his privacy. His right to privacy, life and liberty is at risk because he cannot use the toilet, or take bath, or change clothes in front of a camera that’s not only running 24 hours but also recording everything and [is] watched constantly in the office of the jail superintendent.”
In the letter, the family said that Saibaba was planning to start a hunger strike from Monday onwards till the prison administration apologises.
“We, request your [Walse-Patil] kind self to take immediate action and provide him privacy, dignity and instruct the persons concerned in the Nagpur Central Jail to remove CCTV cameras.”
The family’s letter comes a week after Saibaba’s lawyer had alleged that he was denied a plastic water bottle by the Nagpur Central Jail authorities despite it being approved initially, according to The Hindu.
“I had taken permission from the jail authorities to get him a plastic bottle and only then I had got the bottle,” Advocate Aakash Sarode had told the newspaper. “No reason was given to me for refusing the bottle. Sai cannot carry a glass bottle because it is heavy and he has severe pain in shoulders and metal bottles are not allowed inside the prison.”
Sarode further said that Saibaba had been requesting permission regarding a plastic bottle for the last three weeks.
Kumari said that Saibaba has started getting unconscious because of the heat and lack of hydration inside his cell.
“There is a small pot kept in the cell and Sai keeps requesting his helper, who is also a convict, to give him water,” Kumari said, according to The Hindu. “But at night when he feels thirsty he can’t wake his inmate and bother him for water. He has started getting unconscious because of the heat and lack of hydration inside the anda cell.”
Jail authorities had claimed that they had given permission for a transparent water bottle, but Saibaba’s lawyer had brought a jar instead.
“Jars are not accepted in jail,” an unidentified jail official had told The Hindu. “If they send a simple plastic water bottle, we will take it.”