A 47 year old teacher in Ram Lal Anand College of Delhi University, Dr. G. N. Saibaba, came from a small coastal district in Andhra Pradesh. He belonged to a poor family with meagre land insufficient to meet the necessities of the household. Even as earning from that small patch of land was dwindling, the condition took a turn for the worse when Saibaba, then a young boy of five, was diagnosed with polio which eventually paralysed his lower limbs rendering him incapable of using his legs. Despite these crippling hurdles, with his indomitable spirit and some support from considerate teachers, he found a school where his mind was nurtured and gradually matured later in the East Godavari District Degree College in Amalapur that Saibaba where he also found a passion that was truly his own, his love for literature.
During his college days in the early nineties he became increasingly aware of the political atmosphere where peoples struggles were challenging age-old orthodoxies and instruments of oppression. It was in those times when the exhortations by revolutionary balladeer Gaddar from Jana Natya Mandali along with poets, intellectuals, and political activists inspired thousands of youth that Saibaba joined the All India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF). He became the state secretary of Andhra Pradesh Committee in 1992. By 1995 he was the all India General-Secretary and then subsequently came to Delhi leaving behind his lifelong partner and friend Vasantha and his daughter Manjeera in Hyderabad.
Saibaba has been writing, giving lectures, and organising protest meetings against imperialist globalisation, in favour of nationality struggles, and bringing to the fore dalit and adivasi issues. By 1997 he helped organise an international conference on the nationality question and the right to self-determination of people including the right to secede. He also helped organising a confederation of peasantry, workers, youth and other sections of oppressed masses into Forum Against Imperialist Globalization (FAIG) in 2001. In a rally organised by FAIG on 10th May 2002 in Delhi at the Ram Lila Ground thousands gathered to challenge imperialist globalisation which was brutally and violently attacked by police injuring hundreds of protesters.
Roughly at the same time when the civil and democratic rights movements were trying to thwart the effort of the government to bring in draconian laws criminalising dissent, Saibaba took an active role in the efforts to repeal POTA. Ever since, he has been active to work for the repeal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), unconstitutional and undemocratic amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and many such draconian laws.
During the Mumbai Resistance 2004, an event organised to expose the collaborationist politics of NGOs and imperialist institutions, Saibaba participated as an active organiser and helped to build a revolutionary perspective determined to uphold people’s struggles everywhere. During this time the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) was formed and Saibaba became a part of it as well. With the on-coming onslaught of state sponsored vigilante groups on adivasis in the form of Salwa Judum, Saibaba led a platform for revolutionary and democratic organisations under the banner of Forum Against War on People. He resolutely stood in support of anti-displacement movements, adivasi struggles and the right of political prisoners through Revolutionary Democratic Front as its all India Joint-Secretary.
During all this, he has never neglected his academic interests and went on to successfully complete his Ph. D. in 2013. He was also offered a position as a faculty at Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi in 2003 which he joined and has been continuing ever since. He has been academically very active producing numerous research papers on the Modern Indian Novel. His early works in Telugu were published in a magazine named Srijana. These early articles focused on the dominant forms of knowledge that worked against Dalit and adivasi assertions in the literary milieu. Over the last few years, he attempted to take on a project on Kabir and the myriad forms of anti-feudal struggles in the medieval period in the subcontinent.
Saibaba has always strived to build bridges between an exclusive and elite world of academics and the expansive struggles of the people trying to realise a dignified life. Saibaba, the English teacher, brought to life voices of historically marginalised people into his classroom through discussions of literature and other cultural forms. This has helped widen the horizon of thought for many of his students who have grown sensitive to the suffering of the vast majority in the subcontinent.
Saibaba has also found respect from his colleagues, teaching and non-teaching alike. He has never shied away from standing with the non-teaching employees of the college and the University who have been increasingly finding themselves at the receiving end of the administration’s unjust policies. His teaching colleagues know him as a strong and persistent voice against anti-academic anti-people restructuring forced at the university. He was very active in mobilising support for the teachers and students resisting neo-liberal reforms within the university and outside. Similarly his contribution to struggle against an ill-thought out and destructive imposition of Four Year Undergraduate Program is widely acknowledged. At numerous instances he has resisted and helped mobilise teachers and students against increasing authoritarian functioning of the University administration, increasing police interference in academic and social life of the University.
It is for this that he was being targeted very aggressively by the University administration. He has been served many eviction orders to vacate a modest accommodation despite the University being duty-bound to provide a comfortable residence to a person with 90-percent disability. His family is still fighting an insensitive and criminal administration hell-bent on throwing them out of the University space under various pretexts.
Outside the University, his zeal to link revolutionary politics with his everyday practice, to expose the horrendous nature of everyday oppression and exploitation, crimes of the state against the vast masses of humanity, and growing fascist tendencies permeating our institutions, made him a target for the state. Saibaba has become an uncomfortable note of dissent that refuses to give up against the might of the state. It is his unwavering stand for the struggling masses and his resolve to pave a way forward for the oppressed and marginalized that has now found him behind bars in Nagpur Jail far away from his family and friends in Delhi.
26 July 2013 – Newspapers reported that the home ministry had advised police chiefs of naxal affected states to invoke the anti-terror law against front organisations of the Maoists.
August 2013 – RDF ban renewed in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
August 20th 2013 – Hem Mishra arrested from Ballarshah railway station.
August 23rd 2013 – Hem Mishra produced before magistrate with Vijay Tirki and Pandu Narote and finally all were declared arrested.
2nd September 2013 – Prashant Rahi arrested from Raipur over night and brought to Deori where he is declared arrested.
7th September 2013 – Judicial Magistrate (Aheri) NG Vyas issues a search warrant to recover stolen property from GN Saibaba’s house.
12th September 2013 – GN Saibaba’s home raided by 50 member police and intelligence personnel with a search warrant for alleged stolen property. They take away GN Saibaba’s personal laptop, hard disks and pen drives.
Delhi University Teachers Association protests this high-handedness of police and demanded removal of the Vice-Chancellor for his complicity in its press release.
13th September 2013 – press conference at GN Saibaba’s place addressed by intellectuals, teachers and civil society members.
17th September 2013: Summons issued to GN Saibaba to appear anywhere outside Delhi, preferably Nagpur, for further interrogation.
1st October 2013: Subhash Bawache, the Investigating Officer (IO) calls up Saibaba when he was teaching his students in college and asks for password to access the two hard disks. GN Saibaba after returning from college writes back and sends the passwords the same day through e-mail and requests to ensure that the hard disks are not tempered with.
26th October 2013 – NHRC sends notice to Maharashtra and Delhi Police asking why GN Saibaba was called to Maharashtra for interrogation. It also asked to inquire about the confiscation of laptops, hard disks, and many other materials in the name of search for stolen property. Four weeks time is given to file the reply. Response still awaited.
16 November 2013 – The MHA files an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying, “The ideologues and supporters of the CPI (Maoist) in cities and towns have undertaken a concerted and systematic propaganda against the state to project it in a poor light and also malign it through disinformation… In fact, it is these ideologues who have kept the Maoist movement alive and are in many ways more dangerous than the cadres of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army.”
31st December 2013 – Mail Today reported that the MHA is planning to target “front organisations” of the CPI(Maoist) and has made a list of 128 such organisations, and intends to treat sympathisers as Maoists.
3rd January 2014 – Investigating Officer Bawache asked GN Saibaba for time for interrogation. Interrogation is scheduled for 7th January.
6th January 2014– IO Bawache informs late in the evening about the rescheduling of interrogation.
9th January 2014 – Dr. Saibaba is interrogated for more than three hours at his house by a team of policemen and intelligence personnels led by SDPO Subhash Bawache.
9th May 2014– GN Saibaba is abducted 200 meters away from his home by plainclothes men while returning from evaluation duty within the university premises.
10th May 2014– A protest is organized in front of Maharashtra Sadan against abduction of GN Saibaba.
13th May 2014 – Protests take place in Den Haag (The Netherlands), Frankfurt (Germany), and Basel (Switzerland) against the arrest.
14th May 2014 – Press Conference by Delhi University teachers, civil society members including Justice (Retd.) Justice Rajinder Sachar at Press Club of India.
Protests take place in Hamburg (Germany) and New York (US).
15th May 2014– Dr. GN Saibaba is placed under suspension by Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi.
Protest Meeting at Hyderabad.
19th May 2014– Protest meeting at Barnala, Punjab.
21st May 2014– Protest by teachers, students and non-teaching staff in Delhi University against the abduction of GN Saibaba.
22nd May 2014 – The NHRC issues notices to Jail Superintendent of Nagpur Central Jail and asks to file detailed report within two weeks on the rights violation while Saibaba was abducted from Delhi. We are yet to hear anything in this regard.
28th May 2014 – Jan Sanskritik Manch organizes a protest meeting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.
3rd June 2014 – Solidarity Meeting organized by Delhi University Community against Police Repression at Gandhi Peace Foundation.
20th June 2014 – A protest is organized in Vancouver (Canada) by member organizations of the International League of People’s Struggle, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Alliance for Peoples Health, and Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, and was joined by Red Sparks Union, East Indian Defence Committee and Revolutionary Student Movement.
30th June 2014 – Defence Committee is declared.
8th July 2014 – A team led by Justice Kolse Patil and including Varavara Rao and AS Vasantha visits GN Saibaba in jail to ascertain the jail conditions.
August 2014- Defence Committee initiates signature campaign
25th August 2014 – Prashant Rahi is granted bail by the Bombay High Court.
28th October 2014- Pandu Narote and Mahesh Tirki are granted bail by the District and Session Court, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra.
6th November 2014 – A protest programme was organized in Delhi. Arun Ferreira spoke about his incarceration in Nagpur Jail on fabricated charges. Sanjay Kak, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Ashok Bhowmick discussed Ferreira’s book, Colours of the Cage. A signature campaign to free GN Saibaba is initiated.
17th January 2015- Prof. G Hara Gopal meets Dr. Saibaba in Jail where he is informed by Saibaba about the latter’s fast deteriorating health condition.
February 2015- MRI Report shown partial damage to cervical spine, dislocation of cervical vertibrae, and compression of nerve roots.