Jailed Prof GN Saibaba to go on indefinite hunger strike over CCTV surveillance of toilet

Dr GN Saibaba, a former English professor at Ram Lal Anand College, Delhi University, who has been jailed in Nagpur since 2017 lives in increased torment as jail authorities infringe upon his privacy. He has been charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and has been living under restricted conditions of the Nagpur Central jail authorities.

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Adding to his troubles the authorities have installed a wide-angle CCTV camera with 24-hour surveillance that reportedly covers his entire cell including, the toilet seat, and bathing area. Saibaba is physically disabled and is “unable to use the toilet, bathe or change without his privacy being infringed”.

According to a letter signed by the literary’s wife Vasantha Kumari, addressed to the Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil, she states that helpers are also intimidated by the closely watching camera since their bodies are constantly exposed to the eye of the camera.

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Saibaba feels humiliated and due to the restrictions by authorities, has decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike if the camera is not removed and “the responsible prison administrators apologize for knowingly and brutally violating natural body rights and the rights provided by the constitution,” the letter says.

“This is clearly to intimidate and insult him. This is a means to violate his privacy. His right to privacy, life, and liberty are at risk,” Vasantha adds.

In the letter, also signed by GN Saibaba’s brother, Dr G Ramadevudu, the duo has urged immediate removal of the camera that has “put his privacy at stake”. They have also requested for Saibaba to be granted parole as per his eligibility to ensure proper medication and required medical support which is unavailable in Nagpur.

The letter alleges that Saibaba has been denied bail and parole requests on false grounds without considering the existing legal guidelines.

Saibaba has been languishing in Nagpur’s Central prison since 2017 despite repeated appeals to the court to release him. He has been charged with the draconian UAPA and the professor now firmly believes that he is likely to remain in jail until the end of his days.

Saibaba was affected by polio as a child. He was unable to walk as a result of the disease, and he is now 90 percent disabled. A Maharashtra court sentenced him to life in prison in 2017 for allegedly having Maoist ties. He was charged with violating the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Despite Saibaba’s serious medical conditions, multiple bails and parole applications have been denied since then. His position at the college where he taught was terminated in 2021.

Saibaba is also reportedly facing several health issues in jail and falls unconscious in his cell frequently. He is suffering from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (heart problem), hypertension, paraplegia, syphoscoliosis of the spine, acute pancreatitis, and gall-bladder stone among many other medical conditions. An A C.T. scan report has also indicated a cyst in the brain.

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