Nagpur: Alleged Naxal ‘courier’ Hem Mishra, a student of Chinese language at JNU, said on Tuesday that he has never met former Delhi University English professor Saibaba, except hearing him on a couple of occasions at seminars. Mishra was speaking after his release on bail granted by the high court last week, after spending two years and 19 days in jail. His statement is in stark contradiction to the police charge that he was working as a courier for Saibaba, taking information to the Naxals.
Mishra, whose father KD Mishra and brother G Mishra along with a legal team were waiting outside the jail, said he had never personally interacted with Saibaba, who had a sound reputation in not only academic circles but in the society also. “The police version is a figment of their imagination to frame me. I did not have any pen drive or microchip on me when arrested, which my legal team is also highlighting repeatedly before the judiciary,” he said. Mishra’s counsel Surendra Gadling said that the legal team would fight to prove his innocence. Advocate Anil Kale and others were also present when Mishra interacted with the media after his release.
“In a vibrant campus like JNU, activism and movements are common, with students drawn into different fights for rights and justice. The government is inclined to label anyone who wants to express his or her dissent against the establishment as a Naxal,” said Mishra.
Regarding his arrest, Mishra said he was picked up from Ballarshah railway station while on the way to meet Dr Prakash Amte on August 20 in 2013. He wanted to meet the philanthropist not only to discuss a congenital problem in his left hand, but also seek inspiration for social work. “I had complained about ill-treatment, illegal confinement and inhuman behaviour of police before the magistrate at the Aheri court, but he preferred to send me to 10-day custody remand. It was in the remand that I met Prashant Rahi, who had been placed in a cell opposite mine at the police camp at Aheri,” he said.
Recalling the plight of other inmates, Mishra said that several youngsters from tribal, Dalit and other backward classes are languishing in jail with a number of fabricated cases of carrying out antinational activities thrust upon them. “The youngsters, who should have been in colleges and other institutions, are rotting behind bars. Several inmates are facing up to 50-55 cases, leaving one surprised,” he said.
Mishra, who aims to continue his education and also keep fighting for different causes, said he had participated in a nine-day hunger strike to fight for the rights of inmates not being produced before courts or not being granted bail even when they have such a right. “The hunger strike yielded some positive result as inmates are being taken to court more regularly and many of them also got bail,” he said. Mishra had been dumped into the ‘anda cell’ to stay in isolation along with 20 others on the first day of the hunger strike, which had taken place in February last year.