Committed unpardonable crime of standing for the tribals
By Faraz Ahmad
Professor G N Saibaba of Delhi University has been sentenced by a district court in Maharashtra to life imprisonment with the District and Sessions Judge of Gadchiroli S S Shinde refusing to grant the basic facilities granted to even the most heinous convict, if he is orthopedically challenged, of providing him assistance to perform his daily toilet functions, which in Saibaba’s case, are impossible without assistance, since both his legs are wasted, waist below and he is wheelchair bound.
I remember covering the trial of Satwant Singh in 1985-86, the security guard of Indira Gandhi, who along with the Delhi Police Inspector Beant Singh shot dead the Prime Minister of India from close range in cold blood. In instant retaliatory fire from the other security guards, Beant Singh was killed at 1, Akbar Road while Satwant Singh was hit in his legs and waist and after remaining in hospital for months, lost the strength of his legs and was wheel chair bound till his hanging in Tihar Jail, two years after killing the Prime Minister.
The country’s Prime Minister then was Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi and he earned a lot of flak, quite justifiably, for the massacre of Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira’s assassination. But till he lived Satwant, a very young and handsome Sikh boy, was well looked after and granted all the facilities required by a physically challenged person. His marriage to a Sikh girl was performed in the jail with a lot of celebration and all the necessary rituals.
Here Saibaba has committed no crime. His sole crime, if that be, as per the Maharashtra Police, was that he happened to be a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Well so be it. Also that he was in correspondence with the Maoists based in Bastar. There was another renowned academician, Dr B D Sharma, the former Vice Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University in Shillong from 1981 to 1986. A 1956 cadre IAS officer, once the District Collector of Bastar, then in Madhya Pradesh. He died at the ripe age of 86 In 2015. But three years before that in2012 the Maoists kidnapped and held hostage the then District Collector of Bastar Dr Alex Paul Menon and the UPA Government approached Dr Sharma who, due to his known proximity to the Maoists, succeeded in persuading Maoists to release Dr Menon unharmed. Imagine had it not been for Dr Sharma’s proximity to the Maoists, would they have spared Dr Menon’s life and let him go, even returning safely his two mobile phones.
Had the current dispensation been around then, the same prosecuting and investigating agencies along with this judge would have hanged Dr B D Sharma.
True the Maoists believe in bringing in social and political change in the country through violent means. But then their main target are those both in the Government and the corporate world who are exploiting and ruining our forests for capital gains like unhindered mining of our rich mineral resources, trampling upon the rights of tribal forest dwellers in Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand. If they are killing the security personnel hunting for them, the CRPF and other armed men including the Salwa Judum and its later day incarnation, are going to tribal villages committing mass gangrapes, not sparing even pregnant women and those with new born babies.
Granted retaliatory killing is unjustified. But how far can you argue against retaliatory violence when poor hapless women relate their ordeal at the hands of the functionaries of the repressive state?
Ironically Babu Bajrangi, spoke on record how he tore open a pregnant Muslim woman’s womb with his sword in the presence of a large cheering crowd, extricated from it an unborn child raised the little thing on his sword for all to see and record and then flung it, naturally killing the mother and child both instantly and gloating over it before the camera. This was only one of the murders Babu Bajrangi committed and narrated in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 under the overall supervision of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then as Gujarat chief minister.
Babu Bajrangi is out on bail 15 years after he participated in that dance of blood and gore and is happily relaxing at home on the plea that he has an eye problem. So is one time Modi minister Maya Kodnani who led marauding blood thirsty crowds to slaughter Muslims in Naroda Patiya, after being convicted for mass murders.
Only the other day the Supreme Court took notice of the fact that former Home Minister L K Advani, former HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and current Union Minister Uma Bharti have not yet been convicted 25 years after the demolition of Babri Masjid when Advani’s rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya left a trail of blood raising communal temperature throughout the country.
No Sanghi leader from Modi to Amit Shah to Yogi Adityanath and there is an unending list, will ever be convicted and put to Saibaba’s ordeal for it is no crime to publicly seek and aid the decimation of the minorities. But believing in a social change which empowers the most deprived section of our society, the forest dwelling tribals is the most heinous crime in the perception of Justice S S Shinde of Maharashtra, ruled by the BJP and Saibaba who never ever perhaps touched a firearm or any other weapon, found to his dismay that advocating the cause of forest dwellers, even through his writings, deserves no concessions, whatsoever.