Sun lies motionless and it is the earth that moves round the sun and not the sun that moves round the earth”. Pretty universal . Right? Apparently the catholic church with all its religious leaders did not agree, and hence Galileo was vehemently suspected of heresy and was kept under house arrest for the rest of his life. This happened back in the early 17th century; it is 2016 now and technological advance is at its peak. So things must have changed, right? But, have they?
Article 19(A) of the Indian Constitution provides us with the right to freedom of Speech and Expression with some limitation. So, the practice of preaching one’s ideas and ideologies, and the expression of dissatisfaction with the govt. and its workings is a basic, constitutionally protected fundamental right. But that’s just theory, what translates into practice is that those sitting in the parliament seem to infringe these rights in ways that suits their public interets.
This is exactly what happed to Dr. G.N. Saibaba, professor at the Department of English at Delhi university. This 90% physically handicapped professor was attacked, harassed, terrorized and tortured on 22, 23 and 25 April by some ABVP goons and hooligans whose leader was the Joint Secretary of DUSU, Chattarpal Yadav.
In May 2014, Delhi University professor GN Saibaba was arrested in New Delhi by the Maharashtra Police for his alleged links with Maoists and after this he was suspended by the college administration. This, after he was repeatedly questioned more than four times over six months before his arrest. Recently he was granted bail by the Supreme Court of India on Merit grounds and as well on Medical grounds because his medical condition is really serious. After he was granted bail he visited his college on 22nd April to have a word with his ex-students when suddenly Chattarpal Yadav with other ABVP goons came and started abusing him. On this day he also submitted an application to college Principal demanding removal of GN Saibaba from college. Being a permanent employee of college he has the lawful right to visit his college whenever he feels like. But still after knowing this much the whole college administration became a mute spectator and when some students tried to submit an application on this matter to Principal he even refused to ‘acknowledge’ it. On 23 April again it was the annual day of the college and the same things followed. On 25 April the severity of the matter grew with Chattarpal Yadav slapping one of the students of college who was distributing pamphlets regarding the latest happenings in the college and that’s when we called for a peace protest.
These all were the incidents that happened with him in the college but his experiences of jail was a different story altogether . He was kept in a ‘anda’ cell in isolation and sharing his doomed experience of jail he told that ” he was not given any medicine neither he was allowed to go to a hospital for a check-up nor he was given any life saving drug despite after many court orders. Lawyers, family members were not allowed to see him & even after falling unconscious he was never taken to a hospital”. For a person like Saibaba who is 90% disabled life in prison is an everyday battle for survival. When asked about his opinion on the recent happenings in college he said ” it’s not an attack on me, it’s an attack on all students and teachers, it’s an attack on things which I stand for, my ideology” . He describes the attack on him by the DUSU members and the college administration as an urban version of ‘salwa judam’. Adivasis were protesting against the atrocities that were done on them by the government and salwa judam came and killed them. Even he is dissatisfied by the way college authorities have responded. Instead of stopping ABVP goons and hooligans from entering into the college and in spite of having all the Police support the college administration issued a notice to professor stating that he should not enter into the college premises as it disturbs the ‘law and order’ situation of the college.
That was just the story of one man. But there are hundreds and thousands of other people who are also fighting for the same cause and they are also tortured physically and mentally in the same way as what was done with professor Saibaba. Recently one of the district judges in Bastar who was also a Dalit was threatened for his life because he stood with tribal communities and was speaking out the truth. Teachers, artists, journalists, judges and people from almost all professions are targeted because they raise their voice against the state. Professor Saibaba raised his voice against the operation ‘green hunt’ which focused on taking the mineral rich land from the tribal communities and then giving this land into the hands of corporate illegitimately. If we think about tribal communities then they can’t live away from nature. They can’t live the type of life we are living and since they are already so much oppressed that they are not able to raise their voice against this and in case if anybody tries to bring up their issue then the government at centre or state just try to torture them so much so that they just die out mentally. This is kind of a genocide of Adivasis that the present day government is doing. In one of the recent incidents where student of Hyderabad Central University, Rohith Vemula , who was institutionally murdered, in his suicide note he also stated that how today’s generation is losing contact with nature and people who are close to nature are forced by some authorities to delink themselves.
So we should try to understand that if in present day the rights of the poorest of the poor that is the Tribal communities are not protected, how we could ensure that in future our rights, the Constitutional right of every common citizen will be protected. Just imagine how devastating and depressing it will be for all of us when someone just raids in our house forcefully and annihilate all the necessary things. Will we be able to survive? Same is happening with them. Now the time has come when we all as responsible citizens of this country, of this nature should become more conscious about these issues and should raise our voice and stand with many other people who are physically and mentally tortured. A very famous quote goes like this’ Change will not come if we keep on waiting for change, we have to move and be the change that we want to see’.
By: Rishabh Jain For DU Times