Ex-DU professor Saibaba released days after HC acquits him of Maoist links | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ex-DU professor Saibaba released days after HC acquits him of Maoist links

Mar 07, 2024 04:06 PM IST

The Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench overturned a 2017 judgment of a sessions court in Gadchiroli sentencing Saibaba to life imprisonment

Former Delhi University professor Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba was released from a prison in Nagpur on Thursday two days after the Bombay high court acquitted him and five others, saying the prosecution failed to prove their suspected links with Maoist rebels.

Former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba being released from the Nagpur Central Jail, two days after the Bombay High Court acquitted him in an alleged Maoist links case in Nagpur on March 7. (PTI)
Former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba being released from the Nagpur Central Jail, two days after the Bombay High Court acquitted him in an alleged Maoist links case in Nagpur on March 7. (PTI)

Saibaba cited his poor health and said he would be unable to talk. “I will need to receive medical treatment first, and then I will be able to speak,” he said as his wife, Vasanta Kumari, brother Ramdev, friend Ravi Chandra, lawyer Nihalsingh Rathod received him outside the jail around 11am.

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Saibaba’s family waited outside the prison throughout the day on Wednesday for his release but were told that the jail authorities had received a confirmation order.

Also Read | Hope no future obstacles to his freedom, says Vasantha Kumari on Saibaba’s release

The high court’s Nagpur bench overturned a 2017 judgment of a sessions court in Gadchiroli sentencing Saibaba to life imprisonment. It emphasised that merely accessing content related to Communist or Maoist ideology, including violent videos, was not inherently illegal unless there was concrete evidence linking the accused to specific acts of violence or terrorism.

Pandu Pora Narote, who was among those acquitted along with Saibaba, passed away in prison in August 2022. During his decade-long imprisonment, Saibaba contracted COVID-19 twice and swine flu once. He was diagnosed with health conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with left ventricular dysfunction, a brain cyst, kidney stones, and acute cervical spondylitis.

His wife alleged he did not receive the necessary treatment. She added her family was compelled to vacate university housing and received only half of his salary until 2021 when he was terminated from his position.

Also Read | Editorial: The tortuous path to justice

In 2022, Saibaba staged a three-week protest in Nagpur jail, including a four-day hunger strike, for a water bottle in his cell. He protested against a wide-angle CCTV camera recording the toilet and bathing area of the prison. The jail authorities later allowed him to keep a water bottle, and the camera angle was adjusted. Saibaba was refused permission to attend his mother’s funeral in 2020.

In August last year, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Mary Lawlor criticized Saibaba’s prolonged detention as “inhumane”. Lawlor expressed serious concerns for his health and called for his immediate release.

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