Shift Saibaba to hospital, disability rights group writes to NHRC

Disability rights NGO National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has sought the National Human Rights Commission’s intervention to shift professor G.N. Saibaba, a wheelchair user lodged in the Nagpur central jail, to a medical facility for treatment.

Former Delhi University professor Saibaba and renowned activist who is serving life sentence in a prison for alleged Maoist links, has filed a bail application before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, citing his weak health and the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NPRD urged the NHRC to direct that Saibaba is shifted to a speciality hospital in either Hyderabad or Delhi for treatment.

Saibaba who suffers 90% disability from a post-polio paralytic condition, was arrested in May 2014 by the police in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and was sentenced to life in prison in March 2017 and has been in the Nagpur Central Jail since.

“He is mistreated and mishandled by the police and jail staff on a regular basis. Additionally, held in solitary confinement, even the earlier assistance given to him by other inmates has been stopped since some time now, owing to which he has to live in unhygienic conditions inside the inaccessible anda cell,” NPRD General Secretary Muraleedharan said in a letter to NHRC chief HL Dattu.

The letter also stated that the jail premises are completely inaccessible.

Letter reads: “Apart from it being overcrowded many guards and prisoners (one even close to his cell) have been infected with the dreaded Covid-19. Given his weak physical condition, his co-morbidities, cardiac problem combined with high blood pressure as also a compromised immune system, there is every possibility that Dr Saibaba may contract the virus.”

NPRD accused authorities of denying treatments to Saibaba who requires immediate hospitalisation to get treated for various other health conditions, the letter added.

“The current conditions in which Prof. Saibaba is being held are violative of his right to life, dignity, equality, protection of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-discrimination including denial of reasonable accommodation and right to health,” it further said.