Delhi University teacher GN Saibaba may be out of the Nagpur Central Jail but he doesn’t consider himself to be a free man. He says he has just been removed from a smaller prison and thrown into a bigger one.
“The common man, teachers and students do not have the right to speak and express their opinions. If this is not a prison, then what is? The anda (egg-shaped) cell I was lodged in had four walls. This one is open. I will be a free man only when tribals have freedom to do anything,” said Saibaba in an interview to HT.
The 90% disabled Delhi University professor was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Monday. An associate professor of English, Saibaba was arrested in 2014 by Maharashtra police for alleged links with Maoists.
He spent 14 months in jail before the Mumbai High Court granted him bail for six months in July last year for his deteriorating health condition. He had to surrender and go back to jail in December.
After getting bail earlier this week, Saibaba returned to his rented accommodation at Vasant Vihar on Thursday night in poor health. He is worried that this time his paralysed left arm will not recover.
His second stint in jail, Saibaba said, was worse as he was kept in solitary confinement. Even after the court’s direction, he said he was not even taken to the jail hospital.
“My lawyers were not allowed to meet me. When my wife had come to meet me once, two people stood between us. We could not even talk,” said Saibaba.
The letters from his daughter helped him stay strong. She had sent him Harper Lee’s book “Go Set a Watchman”. Describing the two years of his life as a bizarre reality, Saibaba said he had already started writing a book.
“A disabled man being guarded by 2,000 policemen with AK-47s — if that is not bizarre then what is? Such things only happen in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books. So my book would be on magic realism also,” he said.
Talking about instances from his life and connecting them to the incidents that took place at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and other varsities, Saibaba said that this was the beginning of a fascist state.
Saibaba, who terms himself as a victim of laws such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, said there was a need to go into deeper discussion on sedition.
“Section 120-124 of IPC alone does not constitute sedition. Anti-sedition laws are imposed on people who want to fight injustice or against tribals who do not understand the concept of state and nation,” he said.
“There is nothing called anti-national. Neither the Constitution nor any law gives government the right to call anyone anti-national,” he said.