Former Delhi University professor and human rights defender G.N. Saibaba, who is serving a life term in the Nagpur Central Prison for alleged links with Maoists, has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time.
“Got information that Dr. Saibaba has tested positive for COVID-19 again. The jail authorities have not contacted us yet,” Saibaba’s wife, Vasantha said on Monday.
This is the second time Saibaba who has over 90% physical disabilities and has to use a wheelchair, has tested contracted the virus while in prison.
Vasantha said that Saibaba previously wrote to her saying that he was feeling extremely weak and was suffering from sleepless nights because of constant back and hip pain.
“I’m very worried how he will endure this COVID-19 attack, as he did not recover properly after the last time he got COVID-19. His immunity has become much worse and his body’s ability to survive is slowly dwindling,” she said.
Vasantha urged the authorities to move Saibaba to hospital from prison.
“I urge the nagpur jail authorities and the court to please urgently admit him to an hospital where he can be monitored as his heart issue coupled with COVID-19 can cause serious complications,” she said.
The renowned human rights activist was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 by a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district for Maoist links and engaging in activities amounting to “waging war against the country”. The court held Saibaba and others guilty under the draconian UAPA.
Saibaba’s arrest had led to extensive international concern, with the Human Rights Commissioner of the United Nations calling him “a long-standing defender of the rights of various minorities in India against corporate interests”. The United Nations had persistently pressed for his release on medical grounds, citing his deteriorating physical condition.