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Letter from Dr. G.N. Saibaba

Near-terminal reflections from a subject of the Indian state

Professor Haragopal ji,
Chairperson 
Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G.N. Saibaba

I am grateful to you and all the eminent members of the committee for your kind concern about my deteriorating health condition after being lodged in this prison without medical investigations and treatment for the last more than 10 months. I also want to express my deep sense of gratitude to the committee members and all my fellow teachers at my university and various other universities across the country for the concern and consistent help and care given to my family.

Apart from my 90 percent disability and complete wheelchair-bound condition coupled with my severe and fatal multiple ailments, I am also depressed for being wrongly judged without following the basic criminal legal jurisprudence and ignoring the total lack of evidence against me in the false and fabricated case.

My severe disability renders me to face a doubly oppressed condition in the prison, over and above the rigorous punishment intended by the law through this incarceration. You all are aware that I am being subjected to this degrading human condition for being a conscientious teacher and responsible citizen by opposing and writing against the most obnoxious violations of human rights of Adivasis, Dalits and other marginalised sections in our times. As I am not allowed to write the entire picture of my situation, in this letter I restrict myself to my fast deteriorating health condition, though I only refer to my degrading and inhuman condition in passing hints.

At the time when the unfortunate judgement was delivered on March 7, 2017, I was undergoing treatment for acute pancreatitis in Rockland Hospital, New Delhi under the direct medical payment facility of my University. Though the doctors advised me not to travel and continue to take treatment by undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy (surgical removal of my gallbladder), I took special permission from the doctors to discharge me from the hospital so that I could attend the court in Gadchiroli for the judgement. The doctors warned me that the non-removal of gall bladder would affect my pancreas which was already infected due to the slippage of stones in my gallbladder into the duct connected from it to the pancreas. A second attack on pancreas would turn to be fatal causing irretrievable jaundice, diabetes and other complications, and failure of the pancreas itself. However, I explained my doctors that I would return to the hospital for the surgery the day after the judgement. Little did I expect that I would be sentenced? I was sure that I would be acquitted from the false and fabricated case for I never did any crime and the evidence on record assured me of that.

After I was imprisoned, I have been continuously suffering from the attacks on my pancreas frequently and reeling with unbearable pain from time to time and with frequent indigestion, loose motions and pangs of stomach-ache. I have lost weight considerably, though I can’t check it as I can’t even stand. Meanwhile, an internal mass bulging developed in my stomach on the left side and it started growing gradually in the last three months. It has been causing severe pain. Any amounts of antibiotics couldn’t subdue it. There are no symptoms of hernia. It could be malignant/ cancerous growth unless ruled out through appropriate medical investigations. The pain from this growth is humanly unbearable. It’s a mystery for myself how I have been still surviving.

You are aware that I was taking treatment for my left brachial plexopathy, three damaged muscles of my left shoulders along with the attendant nerve system at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi. Physiotherapy, hydrotherapy along with occupational therapy combined with electromagnetic modes of TENS and STIMULUS were going on to revive the damaged nerves and the muscles. The treatment came to an abrupt halt with the judgement sending me for rigorous incarceration for life. Without these therapies on daily basis, I will lose my left hand totally. The tests at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre after months of treatment showed that the nerves and the muscles (two) started responding and reviving. These 10 months of gap in the treatment must have caused relapse of the damage and the revival must have reverted back. I have been suffering from shooting pain in my left hand and left leg day in and day out. There has been no possibility of a physiotherapist available in the prison. If I do some exercises on my own, I am getting a swelling and pain in my left shoulder muscles.

You know about this injury of brachial plexes system of nerves in my left shoulder that happened due to the dragging of me by my left hand from my wheelchair by the police constables at Aheri police station after I was arrested in Delhi and taken by the Gadchiroli police on 9th May 2014. Had I been given treatment within days of the injury, I could have regained my left hand. It was only after 9 months after imprisonment, I was taken to a hospital. It was after a division bench headed by the then Chief Justice of Bombay High Court gave the order to shift me to a private hospital in Nagpur that a proper investigation was done but it was already too late to heal my damaged nerve system. Ever since this injury, I have been living only with my functional right hand, having both my legs totally effected by polio in my childhood.

The damage to my left shoulder further restricted my bodily movements. I was managing myself in a wheelchair including successfully performing my teaching assignments at the university of Delhi. But this injury caused devastating impact on my life as it restricted my wheelchair or to get into my car to go anywhere.

I had submitted all my past medical records at the time of my admission in the prison on 7 March, 2017 following the conviction on the same day to the prison hospital. I have been also submitting my requests for medical investigations and treatment. I have submitted in writing from time to time whenever I suffered chest pain, palpitations in the stomach and chest followed by black outs. On 5 January 2018, I submitted my latest condition requesting for immediate medical investigations and treatment to the Chief Medical Officer of the prison hospital. I mentioned the following symptoms and ailments in the letter:

1. Serious Heart Condition: I have been suffering from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy diagnosed earlier.
--Frequent chest pain
--giddiness, systemic Hypertension
--Dyspnoea, on exertion
--Recurrent Syncope – 4 episodes in the last 5 months
--Palpitations in the chest.

2. Gallbladder stones
--Choleclithiasis diagnosed earlier
--advised for Laproscopic Cholecystectomy
--frequent attacks of gall stones on Pancreas.

3. Acute Pancreatitis
--Diagnosed earlier, but treatment left incomplete due to imprisonment.
--Pain in the stomach
--Gas formation
--Palpitations in stomach/ abdomen 
--Daily indigestion, loose motions continuously
--Acute pain in the stomach extending to the chest.

4. Bulge of mass on the left side of the stomach 
--Painful bulging of cyst like mass of flesh internally
--It started 3 months ago and gradually increasing every day.
-- It was told, it could be hernia or malignant/ benign inflammatory growth 
not investigated so far.

5. Left Shoulder / Left hand partial immobility with shooting pain
--Earlier diagnosed as Post-polio syndrome with HT, IHD, HOCM, COPD
--Contradictory diagnosis as: Left brachial plexopathy
--three damaged muscles in the left shoulder/ hand: Deltoid, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus.
--partially damaged muscles: Teres minor, rhomboidus
--shooting pain from shoulder to fingers persisting 
--unbearable pain in shoulder if I shift from bed to wheelchair more than 3 times.
--Rotator cuff injury with tearing in supraspinatous tendon.
--Before incarceration after conviction, I was taking regular course in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy along with electro-magnetic wave therapy called TENS & STIMULUS to the damaged muscles for pain reduction and rejuvenation of damaged muscles and nerves at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), New Delhi every day for two- three hours. With the incarceration, the therapies stopped abruptly.

--Any exercises on my own causing swelling in shoulder muscles with severe pain. Since my left hand doesn’t raise, I can’t do much. The therapies are machine-assisted and assisted by specially trained therapists at ISIC.

6. Sleep Apnoea
It was diagnosed at CARE Hospital, Hyderabad that I was suffering from severe obstructive sleep apnoea. Earlier diagnosed of severe obstructive sleep apnoea
--I am suffering from frequent breaks in sleep
--sleeplessness
--feeling of obstruction in throat
--I was advised to use auto C-PAP machine. And I was practicing the machine for continuous sleep before imprisonment.

7. Postrate Problem
--Pain in anus
--reduced frequency of urination
--difficulty in passing urine, pain in urination
--enlarged postrate. Have been on medication for this.

8. Kidney Stones
--Earlier diagnosed with renal stones / calculus
--Frequency and flow of Urine reduced
--difficulty in passing Urine
--Recurrence of renal calculus treated twice earlier.

9. Frequent Cough and Cold with Fever
--continuous fever with cough and cold in the last 2 months
--chest congestion
--breathlessness, frequent chest pain
--palpitations in chest

10. Muscle Spasms – Cramps
--Severe spasmatic attacks in both hands and left leg
--Paralytic attacks in left hand and left leg
--Spasmatic / cramps in chest and stomach.

11. Bachache
--Severe pain in the bach
--Pain in the vertebra column

12. Bend in the Spine / vertebrae column
--causing severe pain

13. Severe pain in the legs
--twisting pain in the legs
--continuous and constant pain in both legs
--Spasmatic attacks in the legs.
--legs get severely cold.
--I was taking alternative cold and hot pack therapy at home.

14. Bilatral Vocal Cord nodule
--Vocal cord lesion 
--pain in speaking
--voice has changed drastically
-- 10 months before advised excision biopsy.

15. I need to be investigate for diabetes

16. I need to be investigated for Thyroid problem

17. Eye-sight might have changed. Investigation is required

18. Post-polio syndromes need to be explored to check them and control their growth

Except for the last four problems, all other 14 ailments were either diagnosed or in the process of investigations. You are aware that Tendon Transfer surgery was abandoned for the time being at CARE hospital, Hyderabad for correcting the left shoulder muscle at the eleventh hour by Professor (Dr) Kotwal who came specially for the surgery to Hyderabad from New Delhi. Similarly, an expert/ specialist doctor from Jaipur was to come to Fortis Hospital, New Delhi to check my damaged nerves to connect them in a surgery.

I was taken to the local Government hospital on 23rd August 2017 for sonography test. After the test, I was asked to come again for the diagnosis in the Department of Gastroenterology. I had a very bad experience during this visit. I was totally apprehensive of going to the outside hospital for medical investigations and treatment as I am a 90% disabled person completely bound to a wheelchair. A huge number of security forces accompanied me while untrained police personnel handled me in my wheelchair in an undignified way, to say the least. Firstly, I was terrified to see such a huge police force. The presence of such armed force terrified hundreds of patients, their attendants, doctors and the Para medical staff including those who were to conduct the test.

At the main gate of the prison, the police personnel literally lifted me by holding my polio-effected legs and damaged left hand and right hand like a dead body or a bag of luggage from my wheelchair and put me in a vehicle. They did this every time I was to be taken at different buildings in the hospital, despite my protests. They simply don’t know how to handle me and my wheelchair because they are not trained for this job. However, I have no complaints against those personnel as I believe that they are not trained paramedical staff to handle a 90% disabled patient with multiple ailments and brittle bones vulnerable to break with a little force applied at them.

Apart from the police personnel not able to handle me properly, I felt humiliated for being lifted like a sack of sand or a dead body. I felt deeply hurt. I lost my self-dignity and bodily integrity. Handling a disabled person’s body with respect and treating him or her as a respectful human being is the law of the land today. It is a moral and ethical question as well. It is part of India’s commitment to international community as India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities. My intention to tell you the story of my humiliation in the hands of the police personnel is not to blame them. They were not even aware that they were not able to handle me like a human being. It was not their mistake. They were not the force supposed to handle me. For the same reason, I never lodged a complaint against the police personnel who dragged me by my left hand and damaged brachial plexes nerve system when I was arrested in May 2014. I have been suffering with enhanced disability in my body over and above the 90% disability I suffered in my childhood due to polio.

For these reasons I have refused to go to the Government hospital for medical investigations and treatment until these circumstances is removed. Now if my polio effected brittle bones fracture, there is no way I can get them healed properly. Again, I have to live with more serious disability for the rest of my life. As it is, I am leading a difficult life. I do not want to take any further risk. If something untowards happens, nothing can be retrieved to save my life even if I blame the police personnel (which I don’t want to do in any case).

But my health condition has turned critical. ;I have given in writing to the authorities on 23rd August and 29th August 2017 requesting them to allow my family members, lawyers and a personal doctor of my choice to handle me while taking me to the hospital and during my stay in the hospital for the medical investigations and treatment, which is being done with other prisoners who are not disabled. Why is this not possible in my case?

Meanwhile, in the last four months, my health has deteriorated further and reached a critical stage. I have been tolerating pain and suffering with will power. My critical health condition and bench-mark 90% disability put me in far excess of the sentence of punishment I am asked to suffer. My refusal to the local hospital in the last more than four months is not my own choice. The circumstances created by the custodial conditions imposed on me are responsible. The authorities in control of these conditions have done little to address these circumstances. In fact, the law of the land now empowers the Government departments to address these kinds of question. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 along with the rules framed for the Act in 2017 empowers the authorities to take all measures to protect the disabled persons from inhuman and degrading treatment. Chapter 1, section 6(1) and 7(1) of this Act make such provisions very clear.

I have suffered a lot in the past more than 10 months. In addition to the severe ailments I have been suffering from, as a disabled person, inaccessible and unfavourable conditions have reduced me to the level of animalistic state removing all human dignity from my person. You are kindly aware that I cannot survive without the assistance of two persons round the clock. I cannot attend to calls of nature on my own. People have to help me to do my daily chores. I can only survive in the specially created environment at home and in my work place. If I could become a successful teacher and ardent researcher in my discipline of study, the credit goes to my family members, colleagues and the University where I work.

The inhuman and degrading treatment that I am compelled to face in the conditions of my incarceration, and the objectification of my body in the hands of the state go against the letter and spirit of the UNCRD and RPD Act, 2016. The values enshrined in these covenant and law emerged out of centuries of enlightened human struggle worldwide. As one of the senior most human rights activists in the country, you can understand me better than anyone else. I have been refusing to be treated inhumanly in my attempt to uphold these cherished human values. This is also because my conscience does not allow me to be treated as an object depriving me of my human dignity. Life is important certainly, but life with human dignity and human values is more important. I hope you appreciate my humble position in this regard.

In these circumstances, I request you and the entire Defence Committee to explore the possibilities to secure my freedom by bringing the falsities and fabrications in the case and the fallacious and incongruous conclusions arrived at in the judicial order without following the principles of criminal legal jurisprudence to the notice of the higher judiciary. I strongly feel that this is the only way out for me to save my life without losing my human dignity and bodily integrity.

I was taken to the Govt. Hospital once again on 17th January 2018, almost 5 months after the first time, though my requests were not looked into. Once again, I became totally helpless. This time, once again I was subjected to similar treatment. The sonography test was repeated and a doctor diagnosed that my gall bladder contained multiple stones. The problems occurring to my pancreas were due to the gall stones. I was told orally by the doctor that I should immediately undergo laparoscopic cholecystectomy. But the doctors refused to examine all other major health problems and ailments by referring me to the relevant Departments. I was told that I would need to go to each Department separately through separate processes. It will take several months to conduct several tests. For example, to examine the real condition of my gallbladder and Pancreas, alone need several tests like CBC, LFT, Serum amylase and lipase and other imaging tests (have to be conducted). Finally, they would say that some of the medical investigations and treatment are not available with them and would refer me to J.J. hospital, Mumbai. You are aware that this happened earlier. This piecemeal way of conducting investigations over a period of several months without any co-ordination with the departments of several specialities is common in this hospital. Unfortunately, my physical disability and the logistic of carry me to the hospital do not allow this long process to bring any relief to my ailments before they turn fatal. When some of these ailments and left brachial plexus injury developed during my imprisonment as an under trial prisoner, the same hospital stated that the medical investigations and treatment were not available with them.

For the above reasons, a division bench headed by the then Chief Justice of Bombay High Court shifted me to a private hospital in Nagpur, where the medical investigations were available in a suo-moto case based on a report on my health condition in The Hindu in May 2015. After initial treatment, I was sent to Delhi for further treatment as the private hospital referred me due to the lack of facilities with them, on bail under medical grounds. Then I was treated at various hospitals, Fortis, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi and CARE hospital, Hyderabad. The treatment was continuing at the time of the judgement at Rockland Hospital and Indian Spinal Injuries Centre as some of the ailments acquired chronic nature and the pancreas problem arose as a new ailment.

You are also kindly aware that with my 90% disability and multiple ailments I need to be under constant and regular care of the specialist doctors and therapist for my survival and wellbeing. The medical records from all the above-mentioned hospitals speak for themselves in this regard. All these medical records are available with my family members. I request the Defence Committee and you to pursue through the medical records and take appropriate decisions.

Given my deteriorating health condition and 90% disability the Defence Committee may consider taking my health condition through the available medical records to the appropriate courts of law for speedy consideration of a bail plea on legal grounds, whenever such a bail plea is taken up by my lawyers at the possible early date.

Once again, I thank you and the entire Defence Committee for your concern and help.
With kind regards

(G.N. SAIBABA)
Central Prison
Nagpur.

18th January 2018

Mar 13, 2018