Wives of Khalid Saifi, Hany Babu, GN Saibaba demand release of ‘political prisoners’

Life partners of jailed human rights defenders Khalid Saifi, Hany Babu and GN Saibaba who gathered in national capital Delhi on Thursday under the banner of Campaign Against State Repression, demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners incarcerated under the Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC cases.

This event titled “conspiracy of conspiracy cases” was held to discuss the recent developments in Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC case where top intelligence officers have disclosed that there was no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and Bhima Koregano violence, as well as multiple international forensic reports revealing that the evidence was planted on the BK accused.

The event was moderated by Delhi University Professor Saroj Giri who opened the discussion by highlighting the pain of the families of political prisoners as well as the need to not just engage in a legal struggle for the release of these prisoners but to highlight the causes that they were fighting for and engage in mass people’s democratic struggle.

Prof Saroj Giri, speaking on activists incarcerated in Bhima-Koregaon conspiracy, said that most activists have been vocal against the brute state repression on adivasi people in mineral rich regions of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra etc., in the interest of corporate loot of resources and they have been incarcerated to silence the voices against such loot and repression. In that light, Giri informed about a series of Aerial bombings conducted by state forces on Chhatisgarh-Telangana Border villages of Bijapur and Sukma on 11th Jan, 2023, using Helicopters and drones. These aerial  bombings in civilian areas go against various international charters and conventions relating to internal conflict.

This was followed by an address from Nargis Saifi, wife of Khalid Saifi, who has been in jail under draconian UAPA in Delhi pogrom conspiracy case. She pointed out the chilling effect that these imprisonments cause to other activists and silence all democratic voices. Nargis stated that when Muslim women break stereotypes and fight in people’s struggles at the forefront, the government reacts by assuming that there must be some secret instigator who organised them. She highlighted how she used to sit in the audience of events such as these but is now forced to speak in them as all democratic forces like Khalid Saifi are put behind bars.

Jenny Rowena, wife of imprisoned Delhi University Professor Hany Babu highlighted how Hany was wrongfully accused to be a part of the organisation called Elgaar Parishad without any evidence, due to his activism in the universities for the rights of OBCs.

Rowena stated how Elgaar Parishad took an oath against fascism and the need to unite the Dalit, Bahujan, Muslim, and Adivasis in a struggle against fascism but was alleged to be a conspiratorial organisation funded by Maoists without any evidence.

Saroj Giri read a letter from Father Joseph Xavier, spokesperson for Father Stan Swamy Legacy Committee of Jesuits. It stated that the revelations shared in the arsenal report, which highlighted that incriminating information was planted onto the laptops and electronic devices of Fr. Stan Swamy and others accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. The letter highlighted how thousands of Adivasis are also in jail under UAPA and the cause for such incarcerations stems from the greed of big corporates like Adanis, Ambanis, Jindas and Tatas etc who are aided by the state in the plunder of India’s natural wealth.

Xavier stated how any struggle against crony capitalists and the democratic demand of the extension of the PESA Act is met with brutal state repression.

Vasantha, partner of DU Professor G.N. Saibaba emphasized how Saibaba was granted acquital in October 2022 by the Bombay High Court but continues to remain incarcerated without any bail as the decision of the High Court was contested immediately in the Supreme Court. Saibaba, who is 90% disabled, has seen his health deteriorate even further in custody. 

Finally, the press was addressed by Laxman Yadav, Delhi University professor who stressed on the need to find common points of unity among all the oppressed and exploited peoples of India and struggle unitedly. He said that the people fighting for Democratic rights are behind bar whereas the violators of those rights are in power.

At the conclusion of the conference, all attendees demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners incarcerated under the Bhima Koregaon and CAA-NRC cases and for the fascist repression on all democratic, progressive activists to stop.