Disability rights organisation National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled on Monday sought the National Human Rights Commission’s help to move GN Saibaba, a former Delhi University professor who is currently serving a life term in Nagpur, to a medical facility. Saibaba suffers 90% disability from a post-polio paralytic condition.
The wheelchair-bound academic was arrested in May 2014 after the police in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, claimed he had links with Maoists. He was sentenced to life in prison in March 2017 and has been in the Nagpur Central Jail since.
Saibaba has filed a bail plea before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court citing his deteriorating health, especially given the coronavirus pandemic, according to PTI. The NPRD urged the NHRC to direct that Saibaba is shifted to a speciality hospital in either Hyderabad or Delhi for treatment.
“The jail premises are completely inaccessible,” the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled General Secretary Muraleedharan said in a letter to NHRC chief HL Dattu. “He is mistreated and mishandled by the police and jail staff on a regular basis. Additionally, held in solitary confinement, even the earlier assistance given to him by other inmates has been stopped since some time now, owing to which he has to live in unhygienic conditions inside the inaccessible anda cell.”
The conditions in the Nagpur Jail are deplorable, Muraleedharan wrote, adding: “Apart from it being overcrowded many guards and prisoners (one even close to his cell) have been infected with the dreaded Covid-19. Given his weak physical condition, his co-morbidities, cardiac problem combined with high blood pressure as also a compromised immune system, there is every possibility that Dr Saibaba may contract the virus.”
Saibaba also requires immediate hospitalisation to get treated for various other health conditions but he has been consistently denied it, the letter added. “The current conditions in which Prof. Saibaba is being held are violative of his right to life, dignity, equality, protection of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-discrimination including denial of reasonable accommodation and right to health,” the letter said.
Here is the full text of the letter:
United Nations’ human rights experts had in 2019 called on the Indian government to immediately release Saibaba. The officials had said that Saibaba has been detained in “inadequate conditions of so-called ‘anda cells’, with no windows, extreme temperatures and inaccessible facilities”. The experts had added that they had contacted the Indian government several times since June 2018 to raise the matter of Saibaba’s detention and lack of facilities, but had not received any reply.
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