Several students were detained after police were called in to clear a protest at Delhi University’s arts faculty against the Supreme Court’s suspension of the acquittal of G.N. Saibaba by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court.
Professor Saibaba, convicted in a Maoist-links case, was sacked from the DU-affiliated Ram Lal Anand College last year.
Associate professor Nandita Narain of St Stephen’s College was allegedly roughed up when she tried to intervene. She told The Telegraph: “When students and teachers arrived (at 3pm), we saw police already present. Hence, students went towards the Vivekananda statue inside the gates where protests usually take place. DU security told them that they can’t protest, following which the students demanded to see an order. Instead, the guards tried to drag the students out. When they were unable to do so, they called the police.”
She added: “It was quite brutal. When I was talking to the police, asking them why they were here, one officer instructed a woman constable to take me away. My pallu was tapped off and I was dragged and pushed…. Many students were taken to Burari police station, so professors Saroj Giri, Jitendra Meena and I went there and spoke to them. One boy whose arm was dislocated was made to sit in Mukherjee Nagar police station for an hour.”
The protest had been called by Leftist student groups.
The CPIML Liberation’s All India Students Association, Delhi, said in a statement: “As soon as students gathered at the arts faculty, a brutal campaign of repression was unleashed by the authorities and police. Students were beaten, manhandled and injured while detaining them. The protesters were taken to Burari police station where the public meeting took place….
“The judgment by the Supreme Court is an absolute aberration of rule of law. The manner in which the present regime has weaponised an already unjust criminal justice system to lock up anyone standing up against its unjust policies is clear in its use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.”
The SFI’s Delhi state committee said: “The SFI condemns the witch-hunting of activists. We demand the release of G.N. Saibaba along with all other political prisoners.”
The students were let off without charge at 6pm.
Saibaba’s wife A.S. Vasantha was choked with emotion after Saturday’s Supreme Court order. She told this newspaper: “My brother-in-law is there in Nagpur, ready to receive Sai. The lawyers had gone to Gadchiroli to submit the bail documents when the SC gave its order. I don’t know what will happen now. Our lawyers will advise.”
The CPM tweeted: “SC stay on Nagpur bench acquittal of Prof. G.N. Saibaba is most unfortunate as are comments made by the judge #ScrapUAPA #ReleaseSaibaba.”
The CPIML Liberation said in a statement: “Prof. G.N. Saibaba, who is in a wheelchair with a 90 per cent physical disability, also suffers from a serious heart condition, acute pancreatitis and gall bladder stones and is in need of immediate medical attention. A request for house arrest was also rejected….”