Saibaba on Hunger Strike
Dr G N Saibaba, a 90% physical disabled person languishing in Nagpur central Jail started a hunger strike for the second time from Saturday 21st May 2022 seeking immediate resolution of his demands. Dr G N Saibaba, also sat on hunger strike one and half years ago during lockdown in the jail demanding the immediate handover of medicines supplied by his family members and advocates, supply of books, letters etc. Some of these demands had been accepted.

On 10th May 2022, the jail authorities installed a CCTV camera in front of his Anda Cell without providing any valid reason. This 24-hour camera surveillance is a clear violation of his fundamental right to privacy, life, liberty, and bodily integrity. The installed CCTV camera records everything 24X7 including use of toilet, bathing, and all his bodily activities. This is against the basic human rights. The rights, even of a convicted person should be upheld.

To protest the installation of CCTV camera, Dr G N Saibaba has decided to go on a hunger strike indefinitely till death from Saturday 21st May 2022 with the following demands:

*      Removal of CCTV camera’s focus on his Anda Cell that keeps his privacy, dignity and body integrity at risk. A few days back, in this regard, his family members (wife and brother) submitted a letter to the Home Minister of Maharashtra.
*    Grant of parole and enable him to get proper medical treatment for all his health issues. His family members submitted applications several times to release him on parole.
*    Immediately shift him out of Anda Cell as he is unable to withstand heat/cold waves and unable to move on his wheelchair as the cell is very small and compact.
*    Prison Transfer: He and his family members submitted letters to Jail Authorities and Maharashtra Home minister to transfer him from Nagpur Central Prison to Cherlapally Central Prison, Hyderabad.
*    Implementation of all other demands of his earlier hunger strike that were not so far not addressed. Advocate Aakash Sorde informed that Saibaba is on a hunger strike from Saturday (21 May 2022). His health is in a dire condition.
*    From 21st May to 24th May 2022, i.e., 4 days of Hunger strike, the authorities accepted to change the direction of the CCTV camera.
*    To resolve the demands in the purview of Additional Director General of Prisons, Dr G N Saibaba has to write a letter and Jail authorities forward it to ADG.
*l    Dr G N Saibaba should write another letter to the Home Minister of Maharashtra to resolve his demands in the purview of home ministry. The Jail authorities forward it to home minister’s office.
*    Jail authorities are now ready to give him a water bottle which was previously refused.
*    All other demands will be accepted one by one in due course of time. Due to four days hunger strike Dr G N

Saibaba suffered serious health problems.

From third day of hunger strike blood motions were started and continuing to date. The blood is spilling all over the bed and helpers are changing and cleaning the bed sheets. The skin of Dr G N Saibaba has become loosen and coming out of the muscles.

Today i.e. on 25th May 2022 evening Dr G N Saibaba will be admitted into the prison hospital. The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Superintendent accepted to extend medical treatment.

The Defence committee appeal the ADG, Jail Authorities and Home Minster of Maharashtra to act immediately to resolve all the demands of Dr G N Saibaba including relocating the CCTV camera and save his life. The Defence committee appeals to provide necessary medical treatment by immediately shifting him to an appropriate hospital that is having all necessary facilities.
Committee for the Defense and Release of Dr G N Saibaba
Prof G Haragopal, Convener

Honouring Fr Stan Swamy
Human Rights defender Fr Stan Swamy will be honoured at the 2022 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony on June 02, 2022. Certainly, this is an acknowledgment of the work and legacy that Fr Stan Swamy has left behind for all of us to carry on.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders honours individuals and organisations that have shown exceptional commitment to defending and promoting human rights, despite the risks involved. It strives to provide them with much needed protection, raising their public profile and gathering international support for their work. The Award is managed by the Martin Ennals Foundation, based in Geneva (Switzerland). There are currently over 60 defenders associated with the Martin Ennals Award in 34 countries. Martin Ennals was a British human rights activist who served as Secretary General of Amnesty International from 1968 to 1980. He co-founded the human rights organisations ARTICLE 19, International Alert and HURIDOCS.
It will be a moment for all of human rights activists to come together and pay tribute to one of the greatest human rights defenders that India has witnessed.
Henri Tiphagne,
National Working Secretary,
Human Rights Defenders Alert–India

Sedition Order
“The notion of sedition bears reference to a less enlightened time, when citizens and the press had little liberty to question the conduct of public authorities”—International Federation of Journalists

MASUM welcomes the interim order, with caution, by the three-judges Bench of the Supreme Court presided by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana on putting a pause to the use of sedition law until further notice. This law has often been misused as a tool against free speech and dissent. The colonial law had mainly been used in the 19th and early 20th century against the Indian political leaders who demanded independence. In recent times it is being used by the government against students, journalists, film makers, teachers, even human rights activists and anyone else, who have been a protesting voice against the action / decision of the state. The conviction rate of this law in our country is only 3%, hence this law is nothing but a tool used by the political party in power to suppress the dissents. Even after 75 years of independence there are many such draconian laws, which proves that democracy has not been contextualized in India and we are still suffering from the colonial hangover.

MASUM condemns the section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and supports the order of the honourable bench presided by Chief Justice of Supreme court, N.V. Ramana to keep all pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code on hold, which deals with the offence of sedition, till the central government completes the promised exercise to reconsider and re-examine the provision.
Kirity Roy Secretary, MASUM

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Vol 54, No. 50, Jun 12 - 18, 2022